Crowe soars to Republican nomination, will face Gabriel in November

By Thomas Wilson & Travis Brown

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   A night of upsets in the upstate did not include incumbent state Senator Dewey "Rusty" Crowe, who survived a sometimes contentious primary campaign.
   The senator rolled to victory in the state Senate's Third District Republican primary race defeating challenger Kevin D. Cole in Thursday's election.
   "I'm very proud that people saw through the rhetoric and the negativism that surrounded this race," Crowe told the STAR Thursday night.
   Crowe received 7,861 votes to Cole's 4,657 votes in Washington County -- a margin of 63 percent to 37 percent, according to the unofficial vote tally from the county's Election Commission.
   He will face Richard D. Gabriel, who won the Democratic nomination for the Senate's Third District on Thursday night while running unopposed. Gabriel picked up 1,400 votes in Carter County with 20 precincts reporting and 2,194 votes in Washington County with all votes counted.
   The 2002 November ballot will mirror the 1998 state Senate election when Crowe defeated Gabriel by capturing over 60 percent of the vote.
   "I was very proud to see a high voter turnout," said Crowe. "We need to work very hard together to move Tennessee forward, making sure that we re-instill that positive atmosphere in our consumers and our businesses."
   Cole's campaign had blasted Crowe's votes on a variety of taxation issues and the fact Crowe was elected to office as a Democrat but later switched parties and became a Republican.
   He also accused Crowe of not showing leadership ability in the Senate because he didn't vote for several legislative bills.
   "I kept my word to the people I represent and others in the 12 years in the Senate. I did my best to represent them in the way I knew they wished to be represented during this very difficult session of the legislature," said Crowe, who reported raising over $51,000 in campaign funds during 2002 to finance his primary campaign.
   "For those who did not support me in the decision, I will work very hard to gain their trust between now and the November general election."
   Despite his opponent's campaign and pressure from pro-income tax lawmakers, Crowe remained staunchly opposed to a state income tax.
   He co-sponsored a Constitutional Convention bill with Senators Curtis Person and Mark Norris. Had the bill been approved, voters would have selected delegates who would meet to discuss a tax approach for the 21st century.
   The four-year debate on the state income tax issue may have created a backlash against some state legislators.
   Fellow upstate Republican Senator Tommy Haun of Greeneville was defeated by mortgage banker Steve Southerland of Morristown while upstate House members Ralph Cole and Zane Whitson of Unicoi lost their Republican primary to newcomers, according to unofficial election results.
   Crowe had said the state's next governor would bring a far different tenor to the state and the General Assembly than the last four years of Gov. Don Sundquist's administration.
   "We must come together for the November race so that we can move Tennessee forward into a fresh new governor's administration," said Crowe.
   Crowe holds degrees in law and criminal justice. His wife, Sarah, has a Ph.D. in Biomedical Science and is in charge of safety and emergency procedures at Nuclear Fuel Services. Their two children, John-John, eight, and Katie, 14, attend University School.
   "This is the greatest state in the nation," said Crowe, "and I know that working together we can move Tennessee forward into the 21st century and be proud of this state once again."