Tuke enters US Senate race

Tuke enters US Senate race

A candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Lamar Alexander is less than enthusiastic about using corn to make ethanol. “Ethanol is a short-term Band-aid to help us (become independent of foreign oil),” said Robert E. “Bob” Tuke of Nashville. “In the production of ethanol from corn, it takes one unit of energy to produce about 1.1 units of ethanol energy. So you don’t gain enough net energy to make it a long-term solution.” Tuke, 60, is among a field of 13 candidates — six Democrats, six Independents and himself — in the race to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. and former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander. The primary election will be held Aug. 7, the general election Nov. 4. Tuke asserts that cellulosic fibers such as switch grass are much better, for several reasons, than corn for making ethanol. “I am told that the return of energy compared to the expenditure of energy is more like seven to one,” he said. “Corn-based ethanol does not return enough net energy to justify its expansive use.” Tuke, a partner in the Nashville law firm, Trauger & Tuke, is an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University School of Law. He is married to the former Susan Cummins. they have a son, Andrew, and a daughter, Sarah. He states he has been a “strong” Democrat all his adult life. The current U.S. Senate race in Tennessee is Tuke’s first run for elective office. Tuke and his aide, Marine Corps veteran Will Fisher, were in northwest Tennessee recently on a campaign swing. “I am marching across the state in my Marine jungle boots, and Will’s marching with me. We are doing it in segments, place to place. We’ve started already,” Tuke said. “I love to hike. It’s good for me. Walking along the streets, I talk to people. They tell me what’s on their minds. It’s good. I’m learning a lot.” He said the top issue of concern to Tennesseans is high fuel prices. “In the past, people have been lulled into a false sense of security by the notion that prices will go back down. But crude oil prices won’t go back down,” he said. The solution to this crisis? Explore alternative energy resources and start converting to solar and wind power. “We have not devoted enough to that,” he said. “We need to do those things and devote attention and how to neutralize nuclear waste. We can’t be building more nuclear reactors if we don’t know how to get rid of the waste. In my view, you don’t even begin to talk about (nuclear energy) until you can solve the problem of the waste. “All Lamar (Alexander) wants to do is study. It’s time to stop studying and start doing.” Tuke said he would support pulling America’s troops out of Iraq, under certain conditions. First, you make the political decision to bring them back. Then you tell the military commanders to develop a plan to do it. “The military commanders decide on a schedule that is maximum honor, minimum casualties. And you don’t get to publicize the plan in newspapers. It’s classified,” he said. “You let the military perform the extraction just like you let the military plan the invasion. “I think people get misled, especially in the other side, in the McCain view, that if you’re for pulling out of the war because there’s no longer any strategic reason to stay, you’re somehow giving up to the enemy. I’m saying that’s not the case. When the purpose of the war is no longer valid, it’s time to stop subjecting our men and women to the dangers of that war. “If someone can explain to me why we are there now, I’ll listen. But no one has the last four years. I’ve not heard a single rational justification for it.” Published in The Messenger 6.18.08

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