Ex-state Rep. Cochran to challenge District Attorney General Clark

Becky Campbell • Aug 13, 2013 at 4:45 PM

Local attorney and former state representative Jerome Cochran confirmed Monday he intends to challenge District Attorney General Tony Clark in next year’s general election.

“I’ve had a lot of encouragement,” Cochran said. “I’m in the early stages of getting a campaign together.”

He declined to comment further on the issue, including the reason he decided to run.

Cochran, 41, of Carter County, was first elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2002 when he unseated longtime state Rep. Ralph Cole. Cochran was a member of the Children and Family Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Domestic Relations Committee, the Constitutional Protections Subcommittee and the Civil Practice & Procedure Subcommittee.

In the 2004 Carter County Republican primary, he ran against John B. Holsclaw Sr., a former tax assessor for Carter County, and was re-nominated with 3,942 votes over Holsclaw’s 2,089. He ran unopposed in the subsequent 2004 general election.

Cochran lost the August 2006 primary to challenger Kent Williams, who went on to win the general election. He unsuccessfully challenged Williams in the August 2008 primary.

Cochran graduated from Happy Valley High School and completed his undergraduate work at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville before receiving his law degree from Regent School of Law in Virginia Beach, Va.

Clark is in his first term as District Attorney General and has been in office since 2006.

At least two other attorneys have reportedly expressed interest in running for DA, but no one else has confirmed they will launch a campaign against him. Clark said he has all intention of seeking a second term. “Unequivocally and without hesitation, I will be running again for the First Judicial District Attorney. I’ve never not thought about running. It’s always been my intention to seek a second term,” Clark said late Monday.

Clark said he considers Cochran a friend and said Cochran or anyone else who qualifies for the position has the right to run.

Clark has received a round of criticism lately after three unsuccessful attempts to convict former Unicoi County Sheriff Kent Harris of official misconduct as well as an investigation that eventually led to charges against a Johnson City man accused of killing his mother being dismissed.

The problems surrounding the murder charge against Codey Miller being dismissed, however lies with the Johnson City Police Department, according to the ruling from the judge who threw out Miller’s coerced confession.

“I’m sure there are people out there who support Kent Harris and were not happy with the charges I presented to the grand jury. I don’t have this position to make people happy,” Clark said “I make decisions based on the law. That’s what I’ve done since I started.”

Clark also said he didn’t seek the DA’s position just to have a job.

“This is my life,” he said. “For me, being the DA is not just a job It’s what i wanted to do, it’s what I want to continue to do. I want to be the DA and be a prosecutor. It’s my life.”

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