Mike Cohen discussed the upcoming May 1 elections at the April meeting of the Halls Republican Club. He heads Cohen Communications in Knoxville and frequently appears on local TV talk shows.
First, Cohen had no reason to take sides. In fact, he said he does not take political candidates as clients because he needs a working relationship with all the winners to be effective for his business clients.
Second, there was no way he would diss one of the two candidates in the room – Tom Spangler, running for sheriff, and R. Larry Smith, running for commissioner at-large.
“I don’t have a clue,” he said about the sheriff’s race. It will be decided May 1 in the Republican Primary because the Democrats did not field a candidate. “I’d rate this hugely important job as a toss-up,” Cohen said. “Lee Tramel has more experience on the administrative side, and Tom Spangler has more experience as a cop.”
Club member Billy Bright, who works in the register of deeds office, spoke out in support of chief deputy Nick McBride to replace Sherry Witt, who is term-limited.
On state and national races, Cohen said U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn is way out front for the August Republican Primary, but then must face former Gov. Phil Bredesen in November. The GOP race for governor will probably come down to U.S. Rep. Diane Black or Randy Boyd, who served in Gov. Bill Haslam’s cabinet. He gave a nod to Bill Lee, but probably because a representative from the campaign was present.
This writer asked about Black and Blackburn tying themselves so closely to President Trump. Cohen said the latest poll he saw had Trump with 73 percent approval from Republicans in this area.
He said “every race will tilt toward Republicans except in the cities.”
Tim Burchett “will absolutely roll over his opponents” in the primary and general elections to replace U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan, Cohen said. In response to a question, he said 60 percent of the voters live in Knox County, where Burchett has served as county mayor for eight years.
GOP county chair Buddy Burkhardt said Republicans will gather at the Crowne Plaza downtown on election night, starting at 7 p.m.