Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Davis Cries Foul
For the last 120 years, only Republicans have served the U.S. House of Representatives from Tennessee's First Congressional District. Although the Democrats dutifully run a candidate, for practical purposes, the person who wins the Republican primary is the one who will be the representative.
Freshman incumbent David Davis lost the primary to Johnson City mayor Phil Roe by 460 votes. Davis is crying foul. He says he lost because Democrats voted in the Republican primary for the purpose of ousting him. He doesn't think that is merely bad form, he thinks it is fraudulent.
He has hired a law firm to sniff out any Democrats who voted Republican, apparently with the goal of canceling their votes. The newspaper even published a phone number so you can rat out your neighbor.
The problem for Davis is that it is perfectly legal. In Tennessee, any registered voter can vote in any primary s/he chooses. You visit the nice volunteers, show them your ID, sign in, fill out a piece of paper as to which primary you wish to vote in that election, take your paper to the man behind the curtain who punches up the machine to the party you selected, and vote in secret.
Thus many Tennesseeans are free agents. They vote for (or against) the person rather than the party. Davis thinks he has a case because he says there is a state law that "prohibits persons who have an 'established pattern' of voting in one party’s primary from voting in another party’s primary."
I wonder how far Davis will really take this. Will they go through the voting records, litmus-testing everyone who voted in regards to party affiliation? What constitutes an established pattern? And, how do you know if the person you tracked down as a dirty dog Democrat even voted against you? The voting is in secret. If Davis is somehow successful with dismissing the votes of the people in this district, can you imagine the lawsuits?
It is all on the front page of today's JC Press, Davis Retains Law Firm. The Lt. Governor says Davis is making a major mistake and the Johnson City Press wrote that Davis should "accept the decision of the voters."