Let’s have some fun with the upcoming May 1 county primaries. Early voting starts this week, so everyone should have made up their mind. Get details on sites and times here.
If Gannett lets them, the News Sentinel will endorse this week – the decisions announced after research and candidate interviews. But with all that, the KNS will do what it always does – pick the “ins.” Here are my guesses at the KNS endorsements in contested races:
Sheriff – Lee Tramel
County Mayor – Brad Anders
County Clerk – Sherry Witt
Register of Deeds – Nick McBride
Circuit Court Clerk – Charlie Susano (even though the paper left out his picture in its election guide).
County Commission – At-large seat 10 – Larsen Jay
County Commission – At-large seat 11 – toss-up
County Mayor – Linda Haney
School board – District 1
School board – District 9
Why am I confident in these predictions? Because the May 1 GOP Primary is a clear contest between the “ins” and the “outs,” and the daily paper almost always opts for the safe, more establishment choices.
Take the sheriff’s race. Go to Club LeConte or Cherokee Country Club and folks will tell you Lee Tramel is a sure bet. But go to Aubrey’s or Waffle House – or just count signs in yards. You’ll find Tom Spangler ahead by 10 points.
While the three mayoral candidates – Bob Thomas, Glenn Jacobs and Brad Anders – sound similar, Anders has signaled his willingness to raise property taxes by refusing to say “no way.” That will be enough to snag the paper’s endorsement.
Witt and McBride are “ins,” but are clearly better-suited for the jobs they seek than their opponents. These are easy endorsements. Susano and Jay are safe choices.
The paper will pick among three good candidates for school board from East Knoxville but is likely to endorse Canty because of his community activism (somebody there has heard of him), and will opt for Kristy because she really, really likes Jim McIntyre.
I’m rating Seat 11 a toss-up on the endorsement. R. Larry Smith is clearly favored to win the actual election because of name recognition, political allies and outspending Justin Biggs by 10-1. Whether the News Sentinel endorses Biggs for a fresh start or Smith despite allegations of misconduct by a string of women, well, that depends on who is sitting at the table.