Cochran says he has been sticking to issues in campaign

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   Jerome Cochran says the issues haven't changed since August when he defeated incumbent Ralph Cole to win the Republican Primary for the Fourth District state house seat.
   And although members of the Cole camp have initiated a write-in campaign for the November election, he said those issues haven't changed.
   Cochran did express disappointment that Cole would choose not to accept the decision of the Republican party and Republican voters.
   "I am disappointed that he would not support the Republican party after they've given him so much over the last 13 years," said Cochran, who added he did not receive a congratulatory telephone call from Cole following his primary win in August. "I think Ralph Cole is not the Republican they thought he was."
   A group of citizens called The Committee to Re-elect Ralph Cole have initiated a write-in campaign for the 4th District incumbent who lost the Republican Primary to Cochran in August.
   Cochran won the primary by 357 votes, and is the only candidate for the seat listed on the general election ballot.
   During the primary campaign, he was critical of Cole's decision to support legislation that enacted a state income tax. He was also critical of what he felt was the incumbent's allegiance to Gov. Don Sundquist and pro-income tax Nashville legislators rather than his constituents in Carter County.
   Cochran vigorously opposed a state income tax and felt the traditional Republican political ideas of low taxes and less government had not been upheld in Nashville. He pointed to consistent double-digit percentage increases in budget proposals from governor's budget during the past three years as an indicator of spending levels in the state.
   He also believes Carter County will fare far better with fellow Republican gubernatorial nominee Van Hilleary winning the state House instead of Democrat Phil Bredesen.
   "If we elect Phil Bredesen to office, I think East Tennessee is the big loser, especially the rural counties," he said. Cochran cited the strong influence Middle and West Tennessee lawmakers and lobbyists already exerted at the capital building as a warning to elect a governor with ties to East Tennessee.
   "(Republicans) are already a minority party in the General Assembly," he said.
   Cochran also bristles at the notion that he is a "political newcomer" with no legislative experience. He said he became involved in Republican politics over 10 years ago while in still in college at the University of Tennessee and had worked in campaigns for state and federal Republican lawmakers.
   The 31-year-old attorney graduated from Happy Valley High School in 1990. He graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Regent University School of Law.
   Cochran said regardless of how the November election turned out, he would respect the wishes of the voters and the Republican Party. He added the election was about the best candidate to represent the citizens of Carter County.
   "I want to support the nominee of the party," he said. "Either way, I will call and congratulate Ralph if he wins."