Fincher won’t debate Herron
Posted: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 9:05 pm
By JOHN BRANNON
“I am not going to debate Roy Herron!”
With those words Tuesday, Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump reaffirmed a decision he announced in a Sept. 15 press release.
An attorney, businessman, Christian author and self-proclaimed conservative Democrat, Herron is a protege of former Gov. Ned Ray McWherter. He represents Senate District 24, which includes Obion and Weakley counties. He previously served 10 years in the Tennessee House representing House District 76.
Fincher is an agri-businessman who, with his family, operates Stephen & Lynn Fincher Farms, comprised of about 2,500 acres of cotton, corn, soybeans and wheat. He is a Republican and has long been a member of a gospel singing group.
Herron, the lawmaker. Fincher, the farmer.
Both are good decent men.
Both have their eyes on a prestigious prize: Tennessee’s 8th Congressional District and the right to succeed incumbent congressman John Tanner, who is retiring.
In the Aug. 5 primary election, Herron won the Democratic nomination for Congress, Fincher won the Republican nomination.
Both want to go to Washington and represent the people of the 8th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Both are candidates, but only one will be chosen. Voters will make the final selection in the Nov. 2 general election.
Meanwhile, as the days dwindle down in double digits of less than 40, the 8th District has its version of an American grassroots rough and tumble political campaign.
At the center of the storm, at least for the moment, is this debate thing.
Earlier this month, Herron accepted media requests for a debate and challenged Fincher to meet him on stage, cameras rolling, and debate the issues.
But alas, Fincher said no, which drew the ire and fire of Herron.
“Stephen Fincher should quit hiding behind his Washington bosses and handlers and answer the people’s questions about his hidden liabilities, hidden assets, mysterious campaign loan and violations of ethics laws,” Herron said. “The people deserve to know the truth. I’ve disclosed my finances and answered the people’s questions. He should do the same.”
Tuesday, Fincher returned a call The Messenger had placed to him Monday afternoon. He was asked if he’d had a change of heart and would debate Herron.
He said “No” again.
“We are sticking to the issues, what’s important,” Fincher said. “He’s attacking me personally with statements that aren’t true, and attacking my character. This race, this election, is not about that. We’re going to stick to the issues and what’s important to the people.
“I think that now that Roy Herron is down in the polls, he’s all concerned about debating. We’re going to stick to the principles and the issues.”
Fincher said if Herron were to apologize — an unlikely event in any political race — “and take down those negative ads he’s running. … We might talk about it,” he said.
What’s the deal on the mysterious campaign loan Herron refers to? Fincher chalks it off to politics as usual. “I loaned my campaign money,” he said. “We did everything in good faith legally. No big deal. Roy has tried to use that politically against me.
“We need to focus on telling the truth, focus on jobs, the economy, (the things) people are concerned with. Roy can’t seem to do that.”
To which Herron replied, “He borrowed $250,000 from the bank where his daddy’s a director to pay for more attack ads against Dr. Ron Kirkland (one of his primary opponents),” he said. “He says it’s ‘no big deal.’ But it may have been an illegal corporate contribution. He ought to quit hiding documents and tell the people the truth.”
The U.S. attorney’s office has declined to comment on the investigation. Melanie Sloan of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, says it was a technical error and does not rise to the level of criminal wrongdoing.
What it’s all about
Fincher said it’s unfortunate that Herron “is putting his personal career over the 8th District,” but that’s what seems to be happening.
“This is not about Roy Herron. This is not about Stephen Fincher,” he said. “This is about the 8th District. We’re going to stay positive on TV. We’re going out with positive ads next week, talking about what is important to voters in the 8th District.
“People deserve better in the 8th District and across this country. We need to focus on what’s important. Getting elected another term is not what’s important.”
This congressional race is Fincher’s first time to run for any public office. If he loses the election, will he toss in the towel, never run for office again? What will he do?
When asked those questions, he laughed.
“What is important is moving forward and winning this election,” he said. “We have to do what we can to place good conservative common-sense Christians in office. I’m going to do everything in my power to try to win and do what’s right for the voters of the 8th District.
“If we lose, we’ll look at it and assess it at that time. But I don’t plan on losing, brother. I plan on winning.”
And he’s adamant about this one thing: “I am not going to debate Roy Herron.”
Herron said his top three priorities are jobs, jobs and more jobs. He says he’s represented Obion and Weakley counties as a part-time citizen legislator many years and proud of it. “I’ve worked for jobs, trying to protect Goodyear, building four-lane highways, helping create the Cates Landing riverport project and industrial park that will bring in new jobs. And more,” he said.
Published in The Messenger 9.22.10