Rep. Nathan Vaughn (D-Kingsport) has kicked off his reelection bid. He will face Republican Tony Shipley in the general election. The article mentions House Minority Leader Jason Mumpower's interest in picking up the seat. Both candidates hope to run issues oriented campaigns. But what exactly will the issues be?
Doesn't Vaughn disrupt a challenge from the Right by being so pro-life/anti-choice himself? Republicans will argue that Vaughn may vote for abortion restrictions but that he helps elect a pro-choice/pro-abortion leadership. That argument will convince the die-hard activists, but how do you explain that in a simple way to the average voter, when most voters don't closely follow state legislative races to begin with?
Vaughn has two other advantages. He indicates that Governor Bredesen will campaign and raise money for him again. He also had more money than Shipley at the end of the first quarter--$56,300 to Shipley's $13,900. While we don't have the second quarter figures yet, I think the totals are telling. Vaughn has not been able to raise money from January through May because the Legislature was in session and he still has a huge lead over Shipley. Will the dollars match Republican talk of targeting this race?
Another question mark is the pocketbook issue. If gas prices continue to rise and the economy is still in the tank when the election rolls around, Vaughn may benefit from higher negatives for Republicans nationally, even in a GOP stronghold like East Tennessee.