Republican congressional candidates share views at forum
Posted: Tuesday, July 6, 2010 9:12 pm
By: Sabrina Bates, Special to The Messenger
By SABRINA BATES
Special to The Messenger
The Republican primary draws near for the 8th Congressional District race that will pit one GOP candidate against a Democratic candidate — either heavily-favored state Sen. Roy Herron of Dresden or Kimberlee Smith of Mem-phis — in November.
They, along with independents Donn Janes of Brighton and Mark Rawles of Jackson, are vying for the seat being vacated by retiring Conressman John Tanner of Union City.
While the Republican candidates vying for the seat come in different shapes and sizes, their message to “stop President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi” is uniform.
During a Thursday evening forum hosted by the Weakley County Republican Party, Obion County Republican Party and the University of Ten-nessee at Martin Student Republicans, four of the five GOP candidates took the stage on the UTM campus and delivered similar messages.
Frog Jump farmer and gospel singer Stephen Fincher announced his intent to seek the 8th District seat months be-fore Tanner’s retirement announcement. In front of a packed house on Thursday, Fincher said he chose to run for office with a goal of getting elected and “stopping Obama and Pelosi.”
“There is no accountability in Washington right now. Our children and grandchildren are going to pay the price. It’s time to get back to the basics — the Bible and the Constitution,” he said.
Shelby County physician and former county commissioner George Flinn shared Fincher’s sentiment.
“I will be a conservative voice. Our parents gave us a better life and we need to give our children and grandchildren a better life,” Flinn said. As a small business owner, Flinn said he is a “jobs creator” and he would force Congress to live within its means.
Veteran, Obion County native and Jackson physician Ron Kirkland told the crowd he was concerned about the state of the country.
“We are being led by a young, inexperienced president who is destroying it with a wrecking ball,” he said. “I am not ashamed of the Gospel. I am proven, trusted and conservative and I need your votes.”
Jackson restaurateur Randy Smith said he would make decisions according to the Constitution if he is elected to Congress.
“I love my country. I love my kids and I love my Constitution,” he said. “For more than a 100 years, we have been living under a progressive and Socialist government who has forced us to ignore our Constitution.
“It’s time to reinforce the Constitution.”
A fifth GOP candidate, Ben Watts of Memphis, did not participate in Thurs-day’s forum.
Health care reform
When asked how they would or could repeal the federal health care bill, each candidate agreed he would like to see it repealed, but that was unrealistic. Their solution was to de-fund the bill.
A question of money:
“I have stood up to fight against these guys. I have stood up to fight against a 22-year incumbent who has voted time and time again with Obama and Pelosi, who allow special interest groups to make their decisions for them,” Fincher said.
Flinn said he has made no secret that he is funding his own campaign. He said he was reinvesting into the future of the 8th Congressional District. Before a room full of Republicans, the Shelby County medical professional announced that, if elected, he would not a take a congressional salary until every county’s unemployment rate in the 8th District was at or below when Pelosi took office.
“Special interest groups will never influence the way I vote or the decisions I make,” Kirkland announced. “My allegiance is to the 8th District voters. I vow to attack spending with an axe and cut each department by 10 percent. They can stand it.”
“Positions of power have become positions of profit. I don’t take any money in this campaign. Special interest groups muddle our decisions. My allegiance is to the Constitution first and then to you, the voters,” Smith said.
In closing, Fincher and Flinn vowed to serve only three terms.
Kirkland said his goal is to “heal this country.”
Smith said the government has to get of the market economy “all together, because we are setting ourelves up for indentured servitude.”
The Republican primary is Aug. 5. Early voting begins July 16.
The winner of the primary will face the Herron-Smith winner in the November general election.
Sabrina Bates is news editor at The Weakley County Press in Martin.
Published in The Messenger 7.6.10