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Dems focus on local races

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By The Staff

By DAMON LAWRENCE

rclawrence@bellsouth.net

The Roane County Democratic Party held a grand opening for its party headquarters on Aug. 18.

As of Thursday morning, there were still no Barack Obama signs in the windows.

“That’s a pretty easy one, isn’t it,” said Monty Lankford, the Republican challenging Lincoln Davis for his 4th District congressional seat. “Who’d want to be tied to Barack Obama?”

Mike Pemberton, chairman of the Roane County Democratic Party, said the party isn’t trying to disassociate itself with the Democratic nominee for president.

The Obama signs are on the way, Pemberton said.

“If it’s not a battleground state, you don’t really get much, so I had a friend of mine who was in San Francisco get us a bunch,” Pemberton said. “As soon as I can get with him, I’m going to bring them in.”

Obama made history this week when the Democratic party nominated him for president, making him the first African-American to win a major party’s nomination.

He was set to officially accept the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Denver Thursday night.

So why would local Democrats not be running to put Obama signs in their windows and bumper stickers on their cars?

“If Barack gets 30 percent of that 4th District, he’d be doing well,” Lankford said. “I don’t think he’ll get that high.”

Democrat Becky Ruppe is running to fill the 12th District state senate seat being vacated by Tommy Kilby.

The Ruppe campaign released some polling results last month that showed her leading Republican Ken Yager 44 percent to 39 percent. The poll also indicated that 58 percent of respondents believed Phil Bredesen, Tennessee’s Democratic governor, was doing an excel-lent job.

Yager’s campaign also released polling results recently that showed him in the lead.

According to Ruppe campaign manager Wayne Kreis, their polling results also showed John McCain leading Obama 51 percent to 27 percent in the 12th Senatorial District.

“We wanted to show that he (Bredesen) still had over a 50 percent approval rating,” Kreis said.

State Rep. Dennis Ferguson was a Hillary Clinton delegate and supported her in the primary.

Ferguson said he plans to get behind Obama after Clinton releases him as a delegate.

Ferguson is running unopposed in November’s election.

Other Democrats running in close races in rural districts might not be as forthcoming about their support for Obama.

“I don’t know if they’re going to shy away,” Ferguson said. “I know he’s going to run better in some areas and not as good in other areas in Tennessee.”

The Roane County Democratic Party headquarters is located in a building on Cumberland Street across from the old courthouse in Kingston.

Davis, Ruppe and Ferguson signs are taped to the windows.

While Obama signs may be coming, Pemberton said the local party plans to concentrate on the local races.

“They say all politics is local, and I guess that’s true to a large extent,” he said. “Our focus as a party will be much more local than national.”