Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

TN 6th District Congressional race

The Tennessean takes a look at the Democratic 6th District congressional primary today. The piece makes the standard comparisons of Ben Leming and Brett Carter--the two young veterans and family men.

Some contrasts emerge, too. One is the fundraising gap favoring Carter. Another is campaigning style. Carter's approach has been less visible, although he has been hitting the campaign trail. Leming, on the other hand, has engaged in a marathon across the district from day one of his campaign. But it's not just his omnipresence. It's the fact that he's consistently showing his engagement with voters around Middle TN in the press, on Facebook, and in his regular email communications. The third difference is approach on issues. As the Tennessean piece notes:

Leming says he wants to fight for traditional Democratic values, such as tolerance and helping others, and has publicly expressed support for a mosque project in Rutherford County that is drawing heavy criticism from the Republican candidates. Carter says he would be a moderate in Congress and demonstrates a reluctance to criticize the policies of either party on issues such as health care, immigration and the economy.

From what I can tell that distinction rings true. I haven't met Brett Carter, but I have met Ben Leming and had the opportunity to talk with him for about an hour. At a time when politics on the Right is often defined by who the enemy is, Leming is comfortable navigating those discussions. Both he and Carter have seen the enemy up close. For Leming that has resulted in a clarity about his politics. He knows that the enemy is not the Muslims in Murfreesboro who want to build a mosque. The enemy is also not GLBT military servicemembers who want to serve their country openly. He's not afraid to say so and it comes from a deep sense of the Constitution he's fought to protect.

On the whole, GLBT/family values issues are not pronounced this year in the district. On the Republican side, I didn't find anything directly referencing marriage or Don't Ask, Don't Tell on the web sites of Sen. Jim Tracy, Sen. Diane Black, or Lou Ann Zelenik. That doesn't mean we can expect them to be equality advocates. It's just that the federal deficit, health care reform, and immigration are the big issues on the Right.

If Republicans increase their margin in the Legislature and hence control over the redistricting process, this might be the last year that a Democrat can expect to make a case for holding Congressman Bart Gordon's seat. But at least this year, the people of the 6th district will have a clear choice in November.

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