Both hope and hype are in plentiful supply during any election cycle.
But in just more than one week, the rhetoric will level off and fade. Lines at courthouses, schools and other polling places packed with people exercising their constitutional right will dissipate and reveal empty space. The sign wars will end. The “I approved this message” cacophony will give way to congratulatory and “new direction” speak.
The only thing that remains are the winners.
Obviously, the Nov. 6 presidential contest between Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney is the main event. But there are numerous important contests that will affect the well-being of the smallest communities and individuals.
Tennessee will send one of its two senators back to the halls of Congress for another six years, and Republican Bob Corker, who first took office in 2006, appears to be comfortably in the driver’s seat. Mark Clayton bested the field in the Democratic primary. Corker also has one Green Party and one Constitution Party opponent to contend with, as well as five independents.
U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, is seeking his third congressional go-round. The former Johnson City mayor is featuring his “People. Not Politics.” campaign slogan again this year. His Democratic opponent, Gray’s Alan Woodruff, has tried unsuccessfully to get Roe to debate him. Woodruff has continually labeled Congress as “dysfunctional.”
Green Party candidate Robert Smith and independents Karen Sherry Brackett and Michael Salyer also are on the ballot for the seat.
Republican Micah Van Huss, who threw his hat in the political ring for the first time in August for the right to run as the GOP candidate for the state’s 6th House District seat and defeated incumbent Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, appears to have the geographically reliable Republican vote at his fingertips.
He faces Democrat Michael Clark of Gray. The Johnson City native calls himself a progressive, common sense Democrat who has continued over the past few election years to say the rights of Tennesseans have been trampled by corporate interests.
The 7th House District also is a two-person race.
Incumbent Republican Matthew Hill was first elected to the House in 2004. When re-elected in re-elected in 2006, he defeated Fred Phillips, former Washington County sheriff and Tennessee Department of Safety director, and now he is seeking his fifth term.
Democrat Nancy Fischman faces the incumbent for this seat, and she is quite aware of the strong Republican voting block in the district.
Hill’s younger brother, Timothy, is the Republican candidate for the 3rd House District seat. He ran unsuccessfully for the GOP spot in 2010. He formerly was employed as a press secretary by former U.S. Rep. David Davis and owns Right Way Marketing.
He faces Democrat Leah Kirk and Green Party candidate Suzanne Parker.
The 2nd House District race features Republican incumbent Tony Shipley, who is seeking a third term and won a another shot at this seat by defeating former Kingsport Alderman Ben Mallicote in the August primary by a mere 11 votes.
Shipley faces Democrat Bruce Dotson. A retired mechanic and president of the AFL-CIO’s Upper East Central Labor Council, Dotson knows the odds of overcoming a GOP incumbent are slim.
The 4th House District matches a first-time entry, Republican and free market advocate Thomas Gray III against former House Speaker Kent Williams, the only independent member of the Tennessee General Assembly.
Williams was first elected in 2006 as a Republican. He served a two-year term as House speaker and was subsequently dismissed from the GOP by former Republican Chairman Robin Smith.
Meanwhile, Elizabethton will, for the first time since the 1940s, let citizens vote on a referendum that would allow package stores that sell liquor and wine. A businessman who owns property in that city initiated the push to allow the stores. He also was the main person behind the circulation of the petition.
Four City Council candidates are running for three open seats. Those candidates include incumbent and current Mayor Curt Alexander, who has been on the council since 2004 and mayor since 2006.
Six candidates are running for three open seats on the Elizabethton Board of Education. The lone incumbent is Rita Booher.
T.J. Little is running unopposed for municipal judge.
Unicoi County has on the ballot two referendums. The first is a countywide vehicle, or “wheel tax,” which if passed will place a $25 levy on each vehicle owned by county residents. The second is a vote on whether to allow package stores to sell alcoholic beverages in the town of Unicoi.
Longtime incumbent Johnny Lynch faces newcomer John Mosley for the town’s mayoral post, and Dwight Bennett and Doug Hopson are running unopposed for two alderman seats.
With William “Brushy” Lewis not running for mayor this year, Doris Hensley and James Tilson will vie for the open seat. Erwin also has five candidates running for two open alderman seats.
With the August qualifying deadline bringing only three candidates into the race for the mayor and two aldermen seats up for election in Jonesborough, incumbent Mayor Kelly Wolfe, Alderman Terry Countermine, and Adam Dickson, a newcomer to Jonesborough’s governing board, are running unopposed.