The Democratic candidate for the Second Congressional District seat being vacated by Jimmy Duncan has something in common with her Republican opponent:
Duncan doesn’t much like either of them.
Renee Hoyos, the former executive director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network, won the Democratic nomination last night. Her most vivid memory of interacting with the incumbent congressional representative is of trying to talk to him about his Water Resources Development Act not long after the Flint, Michigan, lead contamination scandal broke. She asked him to support the Senate version of the bill because it had a lead registry, something the House version lacked.
She says he seemed to agree with her, and she thought the meeting had gone quite well until she started gathering her things to leave.
“And then he just kind of came at me and said, ‘You know you and I have never gotten along…’
“This was right before he released the ‘Kooks, radicals and extremists’ memo,” Hoyos said. “For Jimmy, I was probably all three.”
To make matters worse, this was about the same time that Duncan was talking about abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency, which didn’t do anything to improve his relationship with Hoyos.
But she probably doesn’t have to worry much about the popular incumbent taking aim at her in the general election, because Duncan dislikes Hoyos’ Republican opponent Tim Burchett so much that he not only endorsed Burchett’s major primary opponent, tire store owner and state legislator Jimmy Matlock, but actively campaigned for Matlock in a race that lost all traces of civility.
Hoyos won the Democratic contest against Josh Williams 74 percent to 22 percent. Burchett beat Matlock 58 percent to 27 percent in a crowded primary field. This would sound better for Hoyos if more people had voted Democrat. A total of 55,911 voters chose the Republican primary; 22,547 voted in the Democratic primary.
Still, Hoyos is undaunted. As midnight approached, she was preparing for a 6 a.m. TV appearance. Her campaign manager, Will Callahan, was pulling an all-nighter to prepare a campaign plan. She believes there is a growing enthusiasm among progressive voters that has been demonstrated by swelling attendance numbers at recent events like women’s and Gay Pride marches.
The Democratic primary was quieter and politer than the cage match on the Republican side – but to be fair, Burchett was the target, not the aggressor– so it’s a good bet that the general election contest will probably be far less acrimonious and more issue oriented than the GOP primary was.
Both candidates are well organized, believe in old-fashioned door-to-door campaigning and will work till they drop, but the philosophical differences are vast.
Hoyos says Congress is broken. Burchett says he wants to drain the swamp. I do not think they are talking about the same thing.