First time’s a charm.
Political newcomer Micah Van Huss surprised three-term state representative Dale Ford to gain the Republican nod in the August primary and convincingly defeated Democratic challenger Michael Clark Tuesday for the right to represent the state’s 6th House District in Nashville.
Van Huss garnered 16,385 votes (72.3 percent) to Clark’s 6,268 (27.7 percent) in taking the 6th District which is comprised of a large portion of Washington County and the eastern edge of Hawkins County.
“The victory belongs to the people of the 6th District,” he said. “I’m humbled and honored with what they’re entrusted in me. I want to thank God, my family and the people in the district.”
A Marine Corps veteran who lives in Sulphur Springs, Van Huss 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.
His military experience not only was employed as a bold, visual announcement of his political arrival on his campaign website, it also is what he says makes him a clear-sighted leader for Northeast Tennessee. He has told the Johnson City Press on several occasions that during his time in the military, he learned that leadership is best done by example — “from the front, not the rear.”
He has never held public office. However, he says that characteristic may be considered an admirable quality and that he likely gained votes because of that fact.
While his conservative stand on many issues mirrors that of Ford, he did say 6th District constituents deserved “more consistency, especially in regard to “ghost voting.”
Van Huss says jobs and the economy are his primary concerns and that Tennessee actually is better off than many other states. Still, the state’s budget needs to be cut, both the state and federal government is too big and people need less government in their lives, he said.
Clark, who lives in Gray, ran unsuccessfully against Phil Roe for the 1st Congressional District seat in 2008. He chose to run for the state House seat this year because he felt like people in the district were not getting the representation they deserved from Nashville.
He was not immediately available for comment.
Meanwhile, incumbent state Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough easily outpaced Democrat Nancy Fischman of Johnson City earning a fifth term in the 7th House District spot by a margin of 12,952 (65.6 percent) to 6,769 (34.2 percent).
The district is comprised of part of Washington County
“I’m very humbled and appreciative,” Hill said. “I’m very thankful to my family for their support. They supported me 100 percent.”
He was first elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2004. He was re-elected in 2006, defeating Fred Phillips, former Washington County sheriff and Tennessee Department of Safety director. He is a member of the Children and Family Affairs Committee, the Transportation Committee, the Domestic Relations Subcommittee and the Public Safety and Rural Roads Subcommittee.
Hill currently is sponsoring 69 House bills.
“I’ve always supported legislation to eliminate sales tax on groceries, and that remains a major goal of mine,” he said. “I also want to take a look, specifically, at infrastructure needs we have here in Washington County.”
Fischman, though defeated, was upbeat after the final tally.
“I do plan to run again,” she said. “One of the problems for Democrats in this area is that they are one and done. I’m ready to start working. I feel really good. I received a lot of positive local support.”
Fischman, who was born in New York City, grew up in New Jersey and received her bachelor’s degree in geography from Clark University in Worcester, Mass., eventually found her way to the area and received a master’s degree in geography from East Tennessee State University.