2010 Tennessee's 8th District Race: Retiring Democrat John Tanner's Old Seat Likely to Go for Republicans

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Tennessee's 8th Congressional District
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Tennessee's 8th Congressional District

There was no Tea Party upset in the primaries for this western district, and that's a relief to the state GOP. The party like the odds of farmer Stephen Fincher defeating state Sen. Roy Herron, who is trying to fill the shoes of 22-year veteran John Tanner. But with Tanner out of the picture, it seems likely Democratic representation is also out for this open seat.

Candidates for Tennessee's 8th Congressional District (two-year term)

(This district includes all or parts of Tipton, Haywood, Madison, Lauderdale, Dyer, Gibson, Crockett, Carroll, Benton, Humphreys, Dickson, Houston, Montgomery, Shelby, Stewart, Henry, Weakley, Obion and Lake counties. The cities of Jackson and Union City are within this district. See a boundary map here.)

Candidate: Roy Herron

Party: Democrat

Political experience: Herron was elected to the Tennessee General Assembly in 1986 and served in the Tennessee Senate for 13 years. He was chairman of the General Welfare, Health, and Human Resources Committee and chairman of the Select Committee on Children and Youth.

Professional experience: A former minister, Herron is also an attorney and small businessman in Dresden.

Key issues: Herron says that he's never missed a day of a legislative session in 24 years with one exception -- the day one of his sons was born. He says he's pro-guns with an A+ rating from the NRA, and he says he's written laws to encourage the study of the Bible in Tennessee schools and school prayer. These views put him in line with voters in this district.

On his website, he says he wants to expand border security and strengthen law enforcement agencies tools to prevent illegal immigration.

Endorsements: Herron has been endorsed by the Blue Dogs Coalition and state Rep. Phillip Pinion during the primaries.

Chances of winning this seat: Herron was going to run for governor, but opted to try for Tanner's seat instead. Given that the district is rated R+6 by Cook Partisan Index, he has to know he's in for a rough haul. He has the advantage of not being tied to any of the unpopular bills that passed during the last legislative session, but being a Democrat may be too much for him to overcome this election. The district is leaning in favor of Fincher.

Candidate: Stephen Fincher

Party: Republican

Political experience: According to his website, Fincher has been president of Alamo Dixie Youth Baseball and Crockett County Dixie Youth Baseball, chairman of the board of the PPR Committee at Archer's Chapel United Methodist Church and president of United Methodist Men.

Professional experience: Fincher is the managing partner at Fincher Farms, where cotton, corn, soybeans and wheat are grown. Additionally, he is a singing minister.

Key issues: Fincher says on his website that constitutional governance is required to limit government and return power to the state governments. He says legislators must consider constitutional concerns, rather than what is most politically expedient.

His approach to the energy crisis is to start drilling in ANWR and expand nuclear, wind, solar and conservation efforts. He is against cap and trade, which he calls cap and tax.

Endorsements: Fincher is endorsed by many national conservative organizations, such as Citizens United, Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council Action and Eagle Forum.

Chances of winning this seat: Fincher and Herron are pursuing different advertising strategies as demonstrated by OpenSecrets.org. Throughout the year, Fincher has strongly outspent his opponent, having paid for $1,096,242 in campaigning as opposed to Herron, who's spent $376,464 as of late July. But Herron has socked away $1,185,974 to Fincher's remaining $421,448 on hand. Each had raised roughly the same amount of money. Fincher and Herron are both running to the right in this district, but Fincher will likely prevail.

Key Differences between Stephen Fincher and Roy Herron

Jobs: Herron says his three priorities are jobs, jobs jobs; he points to his experience helping encourage the West Tennessee Megasite, Hemlock Semiconductor Plant and Northwest Tennessee Port Authority and Industrial Park. He says he'd favor Main Street over Wall Street, implying he'd support small-business growth in the district. Fincher says social entitlements will require 100 percent of tax revenue by 2052 and that the deficit is more than $12 trillion. He would take the repaid TARP funds and unspent stimulus to pay down the debt. He'd also cut taxes to promote jobs and abolish the capital gains tax and business tax.

Health care: Fincher is opposed to the health care reform and says it is a means of raiding Social Security and Medicare. He thinks tort reform and tax credits for small businesses and individuals will be more successful than the current reforms. Herron agrees it was too large and costly, but says the current reforms did some good by closing the Medicare D donut holes and preventing insurance companies from dropping patients with pre-existing conditions.

Trade: Herron would renegotiate NAFTA, which he argues harms families and is an "irresponsible" trade agreement. Fincher says that free and fair trade are necessary to create jobs and lower prices. Rules governing trade must protect American interests while expanding free trade for continued economic growth.

Tennessee's 8th U.S. Congressional District

Location: The Tennessee 8th District is located in the northwest corner of the state, with the southern tip extending just north of Memphis and stretching up near Clarksville. The district borders Kentucky, Arkansas, and Missouri, as well as the Mississippi River.

2008 results: Democrat John Tanner ran unopposed.

Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, 72.6 percent of the district is white, 23.1 percent black, 2.2 percent Hispanic, 0.5 percent Asian, and .03 percent American Indian and Alaska Native.

The Cook Partisan Index gives the Tennessee 8th District a rating of R+6, awarding an edge to Republican candidates in this district.

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