Tuesday, February 05, 2008


February 2008 Knox County Election Guide

(In response to public request, I am bringing this post to the top of the page until the polls close.)

First, a few ground rules. I'm not listing uncontested races, and I'm not listing every race. The primary (pun intended) factors regarding endorsements are conservative philosophies and ethics. Ethics can be interpreted in many ways, and one of those ways is lack of ties to the corrupt people recently in office, currently in office, or in some way being related to Tim Hutchison.

After discussing the candidates and viewing their various backgrounds, here are the VOLuntarilyConservative endorsements for tomorrow's primaries:

GOP Nominee for President of the United States: Fred Thompson

Many people say that a vote for Fred, the only real conservative to have run for this office in 2008, is throwing your vote away. My view is that I will do whatever I can to get Fred on the ballot, including a spot as the Vice Presidential nominee. Fred would obviously not be McCain's choice, as the age factor comes into play and McCain has likely dealt that card to Huckaphony. Several people "in the know" keep telling me that Fred is Romney's #1 pick as VP. If that is the case, I can't fault a vote for Romney here, no matter how repugnant I may view some of his acts as Governor of Massachusetts. Of course, even taking those views into consideration, Romney is still miles more conservative than McCain and Huckaphony.

County Clerk: Foster Arnett, Jr.

This is a real no-brainer in my opinion. While Mike McMillan and Bryan Bates are also in the race technically, this is a match-up of Arnett and Knox County Commission Chairman Scott Moore. Given that there is probably no one more at fault for the entire debacle in Knox County than Moore, it's impossible to see how Moore wins here - unless Arnett, McMillan, and Bates divide the anti-incumbent forces to the point that Moore cruises on name recognition. And this is exactly what Moore is counting on.

How do I know this? Because a fellow conservative who holds elective office approached me last July as a surrogate for Scott Moore. This person, whom I counted as a friend, asked if I would run for County Clerk and attack Foster Arnett, with the idea being that Scott Moore would cruise to victory as the mudslinging got ugly between us. Moore would then coerce those in power to appoint me to take his place on the Knox County Commission, as I had just moved into his 7th District, as a form of quid pro quo.

I wasn't surprised that Moore was looking to finagle his way into the financially lucrative Clerk's position, but I was shocked that a conservative friend would think that I would have such low morals as to take part in such an act. I attempted to talk to GOP Chairwoman Robin Smith about these shenanigans, but we weren't able to touch base. I suppose that it is fair to say that I had to reassess my political involvements after that proposal, because I was astonished that anyone would perceive me that way. Sure I like to win, but I would rather lose than win dishonestly. If that's a fault, then so be it.

Regarding Foster Arnett, he has worked hard in the past several months to reacquaint Knox County with himself. Arnett is well-known in the community, and it appears that he will do all he can to put a trusting face on the County Clerk's office.

(See UPDATE at the end of this post.)

Property Assessor: Phil Ballard

This race may be the most vicious of the Knox County races, with former Trustee Mike Lowe battling current Commissioner Phil Ballard. I want to saw that this is a weak endorsement, as I know from certain inside sources that one of the chief architects that led to the appointment of the immensely unqualified Tim Greene as a "Black Wednesday" appointment for the 9th District County Commission seat was none other than Phil Ballard. However, he appears to be a better choice than Lowe. It should be noted that Ballard is endorsed by Rep. Parkey Strader, as well, another noted Knox County conservative.

Trustee: No Endorsement
I can make cases for Roger Kane, Steve Hill, and Steve Rogers, which probably plays into the hands of Fred Sisk, who was the recipient of one of the illegal appointments on "Black Wednesday." I will probably vote for Kane, but, as I wrote above, I can make a good case for Hill and Rogers, too.

Law Director: John Owings

This endorsement certainly doesn't take anything away from Bill Lockett, Owings' opponent. Lockett is a good and decent attorney, much like Owings. However, this is a case where I just don't see why Owings should be ousted. He defended the likes of Moore, Lambert, and Pinkston against the Sunshine Law violations - not because he wanted to, but because it was his job to do so. I know how that feels, folks, because I've defended rapists, deadbeat dads, and the like because someone has to do it under the Constitution.

Owings rose to this position when his predecessor, Mike Moyers, was elected as Knox County Chancellor, so there certainly isn't the obvious taint that so many of the other races have. I guess one of the good things about having so many lawyers in Knox County is that we have good candidates for attorney-type political positions every election cycle.

County Commission Seat 4A - Ruthie Kuhlman

In a race where a good deal of the attention has been paid to Richard Cate - a former illegal appointee - and William Daniels, whom I have spoken with and appears to be quite a good candidate in his own right, it appears that Ruthie Stone Kuhlman is the best choice. Kuhlman seems to be a classical conservative, favoring a smaller, more efficient government, which Knox County sorely needs.

County Commission Seat 4B - Ed Shouse

You have to admire Ed Shouse, a former Knoxville City Councilman, who has taken the fight to Lee Tramel, a former illegal appointee and one of Tim Hutchison's well-funded employees in the Sheriff's Department. No one is Shouse's family works for Knox County, which already gives him a boost over Tramel.

County Commission Seat 5C - No Endorsement
There are three good candidates for this seat - Thomas Baer (a nuclear engineer and Navy vet), Richard Briggs (a medical doctor and combat vet), and Jim McEvers (who has a master's degree in engineering and has worked on nuclear projects around the world). Picking between the three is tough, but it sure looks like the 5th District is going to bring some much needed intelligence to the County Commission if one of these three is elected.

County Commission Seat 6A and 8B - No Endorsement
Too many good candidates for the 6A seat and not enough for the 8B seat. I probably lean towards Brad Anders for 6A, as he is a trained crisis negotiator for the City of Knoxville, and Lord knows that previous editions of the County Commission could have used one of those. The 8B race has been ugly all the way around, with allegations flying regarding candidates' backgrounds (Porter and Wright) and possible improper leave from a county job to campaign (Frazier). Ugh.

County Commission Seat 9A - Mike Brown

This was probably one of the easiest choices on the ballot. Tim Greene - Brown's opponent and one of the illegal appointees - should never have been considered for appointment, having never met with the voters of the 9th District prior to being appointed. Greene never produced a resume, never made a public appearance - yet was picked by Paul Pinkston's hand-picked selection committee. The good news for voters in South Knox County is that all signs point to you having honest representation in the form of Mike Brown in the near future. The bad news is that you still have Paul Pinkston. It can't always be good news, folks...

That's pretty much it for the Knox County ballot. While I will cast my vote for State Senator Jamie Woodson, I certainly won't be voting for Rep. Tim Burchett as a delegate for the Republican National Convention. After all, Burchett has proven that he has trouble voting for Republicans. It sure would embarrass us Tennesseans if he ended up pledging a delegate for Hillary Clinton in Minneapolis, now wouldn't it?

UPDATE (2/5/08 8:06 A.M.) - A few e-mails have inquired as to how I knew that the conservative friend who approached me regarding running for County Clerk was actually doing so at the behest of Scott Moore. The truth is that I don't have any solid proof, only that the person told me that Scott Moore had sanctioned the move. I believed this person. You can make up your own mind as to whether the offer was legitimate or not. I obviously have.

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Just went and cast my vote for Thompson. It was the only choice that I could make and leave with a clear conscience.
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