Tennessee congressional seats in play for once

U.S. House races are rarely interesting when the incumbent representative is running for reelection; when there is an open seat, too often gerrymandered districts and intra-party machinations make it a “contest” between Foregone Conclusion and Token Opposition. With as many as five of Tennessee’s nine seats having some question as to the electoral outcome, 2010 is a banner year for political reporters and pundits.

I have been covering the Third District race for Chattarati, and there has been plenty to write about in the last couple of days (though unfortunately, not much in the way of substance). Dan Whisenhunt summarized the recent endorsement drama centered on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Adrienne Royer, an expatriate Chattanoogan living near D.C., wrote her perspective on this race so far. Her rather comprehensive post validates the idea that a lot could happen between now and August 5, and though the GOP primary winner is almost surely the next member of Congress, there is no way to predict at this point whom that nominee will be.

There are two other open congressional seats in the state this year. The Sixth District, long represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon, is viewed as the most likely to change parties. The Republicans looking to be the one that makes that happen are state Sen. Diane Black, Dave Evans, Gary Mann, Bruce McLellan, Kerry Roberts, state Sen. Jim Tracy, and Lou Ann Zelenik. The Democrats angling to be credited for the save are Henry Clay Barry, Devora Butler, Brett Carter, George Erdel (a self-described “Tea Party Democrat”), and Ben Leming. There are also five independent candidates, whom we’ll discuss closer to the general election when the party nominees are known.

In the Eighth, U.S. Rep. John Tanner also decided to retire, and state Sen. Roy Herron, a Democrat from Dresden, left the gubernatorial race in order to try and succeed Tanner. Opposing him in the Democratic primary is Kimberlee Smith. But here, too, there is talk of a GOP takeover, and a handful of candidates signed up to spearhead that effort: Stephen Fincher, George Flinn, Ron Kirkland, Randy Smith, and Ben Watts.

In addition to the three open seats, the Fourth and Fifth Districts have been the subject of some speculation this year. Both are represented by Democrats (U.S. Reps. Lincoln Davis and Jim Cooper, respectively), and both have Republicans clamoring at the gates. (HT: J.R. Lind)

What are your predictions? Will either TN-06 or TN-08 go GOP? Both? Are the chances close at all in TN-04 or TN-05? And in TN-03, who will win this escalating primary battle?

Posted in Tennessee Federal Elections, U.S. House Elections

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