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State GOP fails to include judges race in primary call

As candidates continue to pick up qualifying papers for the series of county and state elections set for 2010, election officials are unsure whether the race for the 21st Judicial District Circuit Court judge Division II will be on the May 5 Republican primary.

In 2008, Gov. Phil Bredesen appointed attorney James Martin to the bench to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Judge R.E. Lee Davies. Martin was to fill Davies’ term, which would expire as of Sept. 1, 2010.

Because the 21st Judicial District involves multiple counties — Williamson, Hickman, Perry and Lewis — Republican state Executive Committee members must issue the call for the race to be included on the primary ballot, something they did not do, according to Ann Beard, Williamson County election registrar.

Martin has picked up a petition to seek a full term, although he has not returned the paperwork. Also picking up papers to qualify as a candidate is longtime Deputy Attorney General Derek Smith, although he has not returned his papers either.

“The papers they have are void because there has been no primary called,” Beard said Wednesday. “What is next for me, is one, the Republican committee can caucus and appoint a nominee by April 1. Or they can not caucus and those candidates can pick up a petition to run as independents.”

Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney of Chattanooga said primaries are important and officials are working on a solution.

“Primaries are certainly something we encourage and we are working with local party officials and the state election commission to examine the best options to move this process forward,” Devaney said.

Either way, candidates for the seat must file their papers by April 1, Beard said.

In other races, it appears the race for the Fourth District seat on the Williamson County Board of Commissioners may be a hot one, with five people picking up the papers to qualify, including incumbent Commissioner Cheryl Wilson and former County Commissioner Tom Moon.

Wilson qualified on Dec. 30 and already it is a three-person race with Kahn Garrett qualifying on Jan. 7 and Kathy Danner qualifying on Dec. 21. Another possible candidate is Robin Baldree, who has not filed her papers, and fellow Fourth District incumbent Commissioner Jason Para.

Other possibly contested races could be in the Third District, where incumbents Judy Hayes and Clyde Lynch have picked up papers as has challenger Dustin Dunbar; the Seventh District where incumbents Bert Chalfant and Tom Bain face a potential challenge from Hugh DuPree.

Most of the County Commission races will be decided during the May 5 primary, although at least two will be back on the ballot for the August county general election. Incumbent 11th District Commissioner Russell Little has picked up papers to run in the Republican primary, along with challenger Brandon Ryan, although neither have qualified.

Brian Beathard of Fair Street has qualified as an independent in that race and Juanita Patton has also picked up papers as an independent after incumbent Commissioner Mary Mills announced she would not run and support Patton if she were a candidate.

In the 12th District, County Commissioners Steve Smith and Doug Langston have qualified as Republicans, but face a challenge by independent candidate Curt DeWitz, who has his papers but has not qualified for the August election.

Posted on: 1/14/2010


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