Republican newcomer Micah Van Huss entered the political arena for the first time Thursday and promptly knocked incumbent state Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, out of the running for a chance at a fourth term.
Van Huss will now face Democrat Michael Clark in the Nov. 6 election for the right to serve in Nashville as the 6th District House representative.
Van Huss garnered 3,150 votes (53.8 percent) to Ford’s 2,699 (46.1 percent).
“My wife and I knocked on doors, and again and again we were thanked,” he said from La Carretta restaurant in Gray while surrounded by family and friends. “Honestly, I think hard work was the answer -- the biggest reason (for victory). I want to rein in government. Government spending is out of control.”
He also congratulated Ford on his successes in office.
“I do appreciate Mr. Ford’s service, and I look forward to working with him and continuing some projects he helped get started.”
Van Huss, a 33-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran from Jonesborough, served as a sniper during two tours in Iraq. He also deployed twice to Afghanistan. He was not on active duty in Afghanistan but worked on a contract basis to help train the Afghan National Army.
This was his first attempt at running for public office, and he has said that some voters might actually consider that a good thing. While his conservative stand on many issues mirror that of Ford, he did say 6th District constituents deserved “more consistency, especially in regards to ‘ghost voting.’”
Ford, 70, has helped direct attention, and money, to the 6th District. He has played a leading role in bringing needed water and road projects to the area. This, in turn, has improved the quality of life for many of his constituents, particularly rural communities.
The Jonesborough native has been successful in securing funds for the Interstate 26/Exit 13 interchange improvements and other road and water projects throughout the district.
“I ran a positive race and stayed focused on the issues,” he said late Thursday. “All I can say (to Van Huss) is good luck.”
Ford had come under scrutiny for voting in the House chamber when he was not seated, and for voting for other members. Ford said he would never use the method unless the rules were suspended.
Van Huss is a firm believer that government shouldn’t attempt to create jobs and instead, government should create the environment for job growth.
“The federal government thinks it can fix our economy,” he said. “What government needs to do is get out of the way. Free enterprise, small business and the entrepreneurial spirit of the American people will right our economic crisis, not government intervention.”
Van Huss is vehemently pro-life and has said he would never vote for a bill that promotes abortion. He also favors restoring local control of our education system to the state. If elected
Ford, who prefers to be called Dale, was a Major League Baseball umpire in the American League from 1974 until 1999.
In 2002, he ran against incumbent David Davis in the Republican primary for the District 6 seat, but Davis prevailed by a mere 259 votes. After the defeat, Ford said he no longer had a desire to pursue a career in politics.
In 2006, Davis announced he was changing course and would seek the U.S. House District 1 seat for Tennessee. Ford decided to run for the state representative spot again and bested five other candidates in the Republican primary.
He ran unopposed in the general election and has since served three terms.
Clark, 57, ran unsuccessfully in 2012 against Phil Roe for the District 1 U.S. House seat. The Gray resident said he was “appalled” at legislators’ inaction during the last few sessions.
“They have a golden opportunity to sit down with people and come up with solutions, and they don’t,” he said. “We can do better.”
He also said it is fine to open doors for business, but the concentrated focus on this task can shut doors for workers. Talk in Nashville about turning down federal funds concerns Clark, as well.
“That’s our money -- it’s not coming from a corporation,” he said. “It’s us. We pay that tax. I think there’s a lack of curiosity in Nashville.
Meanwhile, incumbent State Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough won the 7th District spot. He will face Nancy Fischman, the lone Democratic candidate, in the Nov. 6 general election.