Crowe to serve fourth term

By Thomas Wilson

   Incumbent Sen. Dewey "Rusty" Crowe romped to victory over two challengers to win his fourth term as state senator representing Carter and Washington counties.
   "I appreciate that, and I am really proud of the vote the people gave me and the trust they have placed in me," said Crowe, who attended a gathering at the Pine Room in Elizabethton on Tuesday night. "I look forward to getting back to Nashville and representing the people."
   Crowe picked up over 10,826 votes -- roughly 75 percent of the ballots cast -- in Carter County compared with 17 percent for Gabriel and 6 percent for Mattioli.
   He also dominated Washington County precincts, racking up 71 percent of the vote, with 19,330 votes, to 20 percent for Gabriel and 8 percent for Mattioli, according to vote totals compiled by the Washington County Election Commission.
   The incumbent senator won the Republican nomination over challenger Kevin Cole in August. He stuck by a vow not to vote for legislation that would enact a state income tax during the state legislature's debate over tax reform.
   An Elizabethton resident, Mattioli had advocated a flat rate state income tax and abolition of the state sales tax on food, clothing and prescription medication.
   It was Gabriel's second attempt to unseat Crowe. The Del Rio, Texas native made his first campaign for state senate in 1998 when he won the Democratic nomination in August but lost the election to Crowe.
   Crowe also said he looked forward to working with Jerome Cochran who unofficially won the 4th District House seat representing Carter County.
   Democrat Phil Bredesen was reported as the winner of the governor's race over Republican Van Hilleary.
   Crowe said the new General Assembly must first put aside party politics and work together to move Tennessee forward. He recommended implementing a plan of "performance-based budgeting" to see the state function with more accountability.
   "I'm going to tell the new governor that the first order of business is to re-instill the confidence in our consumers, in our economy and in our business sector," said Crowe. "To tell them that Tennessee is a great state."
   The state's method of funding teacher pay equity was a looming challenge facing the legislature in the next session, Crowe added. The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled in October that the state's Salary Equity Plan was unconstitutional in funding teachers' salaries.
   "We certainly have our work cut out for us," he said. "I hope we can all pull together and work as a team to make an effort and work at improving the state."
   He also took time to express his admiration for a long-time friend and legislative colleague.
   "I am sad for my friend Ralph Cole," Crowe said. "I'm sorry he's going through the emotions of losing, but he has done a great deal for Carter County throughout the years and I think we can all be proud of him.
   "I know Jerome will work very hard to fill those shoes."