Rep. Ralph Cole defends his political actions

By Megan R. Harrell

A couple of weeks ago signs asking voters to write-in Ralph Cole as the 4th District state representative began popping up all over Carter County. Since his reemergence on the election scene, Cole has been asked to field several questions from voters wanting answers.
   Many voters want to know why Cole did not support republican candidates elected in August's primary race. Traditionally, candidates who lose in the primary election publicly support, endorse, and privately congratulate, the voters' choice.
   Jerome Cochran beat Cole in the republican primary election for state representative, and stated he has not received support publicly, or privately, from Cole. Cochran has voiced his disappointment in what he sees as Cole's lack of support for the political party.
   When asked why he did not support fellow republican candidates after the primary, Cole stated that he is obligated to show support for all parties within his district. "There are 55,600 people in Carter County, and I try to represent all of them fairly and equally whether they be democratic, republican, independent, rich or poor, black or white," Cole said.
   Cole has also received negative feedback from voters and his opponent for supporting a state income tax. Cochran, who has taken a strong stance against a state income tax during his campaign, has been critical of Cole for not voting against the tax that he believes will burden Carter Countians financially.
   In defense of his decision, Cole stated he did not cast a vote when the sales tax was approved by the General Assembly because he wanted to adopt a bill he believed would allow voters to determine the state's revenue system.
   Cole stated the state revenue bill he favored passed the Senate but did not make it through the House of Representatives before the state government shut down last summer.
   Cole blames his loss in the primary on the fact he was unsuccessful in communicating his stance on state revenue. He added the government shut down also cost him votes.
   As election day approaches, Cole would like to shift the focus away from his decision not to vote on the state income tax. In response to voters concern about his lack of commitment on the state income tax issue, Cole stated his decision this summer should not effect next week's election.
   "This write-in campaign is not about the past, it is about the future and who is the best person qualified to represent Carter County in the General Assembly. Based on what is happening with the campaign, based on the numbers, based on what I have done in the past, and what I am going to do in the future, it looks like the people feel I am that person."
   Cole has maintained the write-in campaign was initiated by the people of Carter County, and that it was not his idea to re-enter the race for state representative. However, he did confirm that funds from his primary efforts have been used in the write-in campaign.