Is a bitter summer ahead?

Johnson City Press • May 5, 2018 at 6:00 AM

Thank goodness for Yogi Berra. The late Major League Baseball great’s seemingly paradoxical statement, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over,” is no paradox at all.

A big lead with two outs in the bottom of the ninth is no guarantee.

Neither is a political primary win, even in a virtually single-party area like Northeast Tennessee.

County Commissioner Joe Grandy’s quest to be Washington County’s next mayor certainly isn’t over. The Republican nominee still would have to best independent candidate James Reeves in the August general election.

Reeves, who has never held elected office, was an inconspicuous presence in the early going of the mayor’s race, while Republican contenders duked it out in the primary with negative ads and accusations.

Grandy emerged from the GOP contest by a hair, defeating closest and most-bitter rival Mark Ferguson by just 185 votes on Tuesday to be the party’s nominee.

Did anyone think Ferguson would simply go away after such a narrow loss? His political symbiote, former Unicoi County Sheriff Kent Harris, already won a seat on the County Commission. Harris is sure to make life interesting for the new mayor should Grandy win in August, despite initial overtures about common goals.

Now, members of Harris and Ferguson’s political action committee, Taxpayers Fighting Back, have thrown support behind Reeves, along with Kay White for governor and Betty Ziesel for Republican State Committee member. Technically, the endorsements came from the local Tea Party, but Thursday’s news release announcing them was issued by Taxpayers Fighting Back’s publicist Penny Babb. The PAC’s Scott Keith Holly was listed as the media contact.

Taxpayers Fighting Back still has two official complaints filed against Grandy. One is with the District Attorney General’s Office over Grandy’s alleged violation of the 100-foot campaign boundary at the Courthouse during early voting. The second is with the State of Tennessee Ethics Commission regarding a $1,000 campaign contribution the PAC claims was a conflict of interest with Grandy’s role on the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency Board.

Whether the PAC goes after Grandy again leading up to the August election with the same zeal and tenacity it did during the primary remains to be seen, but we suspect Grandy is in for a long, hot summer and then some.

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