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By DAMON LAWRENCE
While one campaign season has ended, others are about to crank up.
Not only is this a presidential election year, but there’s also a heated state senate campaign on the horizon.
Republican Ken Yager and Democrat Becky Ruppe are running to fill the 12th District state senate seat being vacated by Tommy Kilby.
The two candidates stumped through Roane County last Thursday, even though they were unopposed in the state primary.
Some pundits say the race has the potential to turn bitter.
Yager said he doesn’t know why that’s the prediction.
“You’ll have to ask the people who are saying that,” Yager said.
Yager’s own Republican brethren has made the prediction, however.
“I think it’s going to be a very negative race on both parties,” Bruce Cantrell, chairman of the Roane County Republican Party, said earlier this year.
The races for local offices concluded with last Thursday’s county election. Incumbent property assessor Teresa Kirkham earned another term when voters chose her over challenger Steven Robinette. Voters apparently weren’t swayed by some of the aspersions Robinette made against Kirkham because she won by a big margin.
Unopposed in their primaries, Yager drew 2,553 votes in Roane County last Thursday to Ruppe’s 2,112.
For their part, both Yager and Ruppe have vowed not to get involved with negative campaigning in the state senate race.
“I’ve told my people if there’s any humanly way possible, to the last minute, the last day, I don’t want to do that,” Ruppe said. “I’m offering myself as a candidate. He is. Let’s just run on our record.”
Yager said he’s never run a negative campaign, and he doesn’t plan to start now.
“The people who know me, my character and understand my record, know that I don’t get in that kind of garbage,” he said.
Cantrell said that’s a common stance taken by politicians.
They denounce negative campaigning, while their parties and underlings do the mudslinging.
“On one side of the coin, it’s not a good thing because it turns a lot of people off,” Cantrell said. “But on the other hand, sometimes in a close heated race, if you don’t do it you’re probably not going to win.”
Senate Democratic Caucus spokesman Mark Brown said the 12th District race will be about framing issues, not mudslinging.
Yager served as county executive of Roane County for 24 years. Democrats plan to focus on his fiscal record.
“You have to show voters a contrast, and frankly we think that there are serious questions about Mr. Yager’s service as mayor of Roane County, and those are questions that need to be answered for the voters,” Brown said. “That’s not playing hard ball. That’s definitely not playing dirty. That’s giving the voters the information they need to make the right choice.”
Yager said Roane County was in good financial shape when he left office in 2006.
His predecessor, Mike Farmer, said otherwise while working on the county budget the year after Yager left office.
Yager said he’s proud of his fiscal record.
He also pointed out that if voters weren’t happy with it, they wouldn’t have elected him to the top position in county government six straight times.
“I’m going to stick to the facts and run on my record,” Yager said. “I don’t think your readers will be fooled by these red-herrings.”
Both the Yager and Ruppe camps are claiming the early advantage in the senate race.
A poll released by the Ruppe campaign on July 28 showed her leading 44 percent to 39 percent.
The Yager camp also released some polling results this summer, which showed him leading 35 percent to 21 percent. Yager’s poll indicated that 44 percent of voters were undecided.
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis (4th District) and Zach Wamp (3rd Dis-trict) also face competition for their seats.
Democrats chose Robert Tuke to face Alexander.
Monty Lankford is the Republican who will face Davis and Doug Vandagriff will challenge Wamp for the Democrats.
Early forecasts point to Alexander, Davis and Wamp all claiming victory in the fall.
Congressional Quarterly lists the seats held by Davis and Wamp as safe.
Alexander’s seat is listed in the ‘Republican Favored’ category by Congressional Quarterly.
Election Day is Nov. 4.