Shelby County Register of Deeds Tom Leatherwood, like many Conservative Republicans, is not happy with what has been happening within the Republican Party during the past several years.

"Too many Republicans got Potomac fever and became more self-serving," the father of four young daughters said in a phone interview.

Leatherwood said he blames the Republican's 2006 loss of their majority in both houses on all legislators with an "R" by their name and believes a total house cleaning needs to take place.

"This issue is important enough to hold all officials accountable," he said.

Including 7th District Congressman Marsha Blackburn, so he is seeking to unseat Blackburn in the Aug. 7 Republican primary.

"I have been disappointed with the performance of many of our Republican representatives and obviously disappointed in the performance of my congressman, Marsha Blackburn," said Leatherwood, who is no stranger to the legislature. He served two terms as a state senator - one of those terms with Blackburn.

"I have been disappointed in her performance when we had a majority in the House and Senate and the presidency. I think many Republicans continue to talk the talk but not walk the walk," he said.

According to Leatherwood, Blackburn can be blamed for the deficit, wasteful spending, earmarks, support for the stimulus package, "I would have voted against that," and high gas prices.

"When she went to Congress she was described as a rising star - the deficit was $2 trillion, now it is more than $9 trillion," he said. "She supported earmarks and pork barrel spending."

In a recent editorial, Blackburn called for a one-year moratorium on wasteful earmarks and pork barrel spending, but, "I believe wasteful earmarks and pork barrel spending should be eliminated - that has gotten us in an extreme situation."

Leatherwood said Congress should eliminate the ban on drilling for oil - something that should have been done when the Republicans had a majority.

"If it had been, I believe the Republicans would still be in the majority," he said. "These gas prices going up are not a surprise. When demand goes up and the supply does not, obviously prices are going to go up."

Leatherwood also charged Blackburn with creating a conflict of interest when she took trips "paid for by special interests" and put family members on her payroll.

"I know what she did was not illegal, but it creates a conflict of interest," he said. "I've never done that - it's just a difference in the way of conducting ourselves."

While blaming Blackburn for not doing enough in Congress, Leatherwood admitted it is difficult to get policies passed when the other party holds the majority votes, however, "the ultimate goal should be to return the Republican Party back to the majority by reforming the party and removing the incumbents."

"Democratic policies are failing and if the Democrats are a stronger majority, it'll be harder to get things passed, but in town hall meetings, I'll get the message out and show Democratic policies are still failing," he said. "There is no silver bullet solution for a minority party to pass bills over the will of the majority. What we have to do is become the majority again. It's important not to compromise the core principles we have."

Leatherwood, as of this writing has not yet visited Williamson County, but said as congressman he has a plan to hold a series of town hall meetings throughout District 7 to allow constituents "to share their views and hear my opinion on issues" and stay in touch with constituents.

"I have made a commitment to have town hall meetings in every county on a regular basis,"

Since there are 15 counties in the district, he estimated regular to be about twice a year.

"I don't think that is too much to expect," he said. "There are always forums and opportunities to speak that goes beyond open town hall meetings. I'll support the Republican Party at the grassroots level - that's the job of a congressman."

Find out more about Tom Leatherwood at www.tomleatherwood.com or call 901-569-5100.

© 2008 Williamson Herald

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