West Knox Republicans continue to squabble over Eddie Mannis candidacy

opinion

It was a close contest between businessman Eddie Mannis and real estate agent Gina Oster – Mannis won by 99 votes ­– in the race for District 18 state representative to replace the retiring Martin Daniel.

When the West Knox Republican Club met for its August meeting, club president Gary Loe (unsuccessful GOP candidate against Gloria Johnson) wanted to discuss a so-called study on crossover voting.

The discussion, however, quickly evolved into a debate about Mannis’ Republican credentials. Past GOP chairs Chad Tindell, Larry Smith, Billy Stokes and Susan Richardson Williams all argued that Mannis had won and it was time to get behind his candidacy.

(A bit of background: At the end of election night Aug. 6, Knox County Republican Party chair Randy Pace called Mannis a Democrat and said it was a shame that he won. Mannis voted in the Democratic presidential/county primary in March.)

At the West Knox meeting, Stokes pointedly asked Pace if he backed Mannis, and Pace said he backed the whole GOP ticket. Of the 30 or so people in attendance, the vast majority said the primary was over and it was time to back Mannis.

Meanwhile, Democratic nominee Virginia Couch said Mannis would be a rubber stamp for the GOP supermajority in the legislature. It’s amusing to see Republicans arguing whether Mannis is a straight-down-the-line party member even as Democrats don’t seem to admit or understand that debate.

It will be interesting to see what tactics Couch uses in her run against Mannis. This particular approach is so divorced from reality that it will have little impact on the race.

Mannis has secured the open backing of state party chair Scott Golden, U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, state committee member Jane Chedester, Mayor Glenn Jacobs and state Rep. Jason Zachary. Mannis is expected to point to his qualifications as a successful businessman, chair of the Knoxville Airport Authority, founder of HonorAir for veterans, and experienced mayoral aide.

Mannis will be a strong advocate for the University of Tennessee, which is a significant regional employer. He will push for regular delegation meetings with real voters.

Knox County Law Director David Buuck is trying to defeat a county charter amendment that would make law director a position appointed by the county mayor. This is being pushed by Mayor Jacobs and will be voted on in the general election in November.

Buuck has been elected to a four-year term. Should the appointed law director charter change be approved, it would not take effect until the end of Buuck’s term in August 2024.

There does not seem to be much interest in the topic as no one appeared to speak for or against it at the first public hearing on it. However, it could heat up and become a referendum on Buuck, who takes office on Sept. 1.

Expect labor unions to push for repeal of the state’s right-to-work law. Several local legislative Democratic candidates favor the repeal. The likelihood of passage is slim to none given the GOP majorities in the state General Assembly. In fact, there is an effort to place the right-to-work law into the state Constitution.

Alan Mealka, longtime superintendent of the Tennessee School for the Deaf, died Aug. 12. He was married to Elsbeth Freeman.

Margaret Maddox, three-term county school board member, died two weeks ago in New Orleans, where she had been living near one of her sons. Services have not been announced. Maddox was an active member of the school board and active as a parent in school issues prior to her election.

Isaac Thorpe is the new director of Knoxville Area Transit, which means he runs the bus system. He will make $133,000 a year, with no relocation expenses, and he starts Aug. 31. He will not receive a car allowance.

He replaces interim director Melissa Roberson, who held the job for almost two years. She earns $106,631, plus $400 a week more as interim director or $20,800 over a year, making a total of $127,431.

The city of Knoxville has gained two new residents with former county mayor Thomas Schumpert and his wife, Charlotte, selling their home in North Knox County and purchasing a smaller home inside the city. Welcome!

Birthdays   

Aug. 16: Former city councilwoman Brenda Palmer is 74. Chris Christenberry is 74. Dr. Edward Primka is 55. Businessman Ned DeLozier is 45.

Aug. 17: Maureen McBride, former TVA general counsel, is 71. Attorney Tom Hale is 66.

Aug. 18: Former first lady Rosalynn Carter is 93. Bill Schwenterly is 75. David DuPree is 61. Jered Croom is 47. Former county mayor Mike Ragsdale is 67. Businessman Matthew McClellan is 81.

Aug. 19: Barry Winston is 71. Former president Bill Clinton is 74. Brent Waugh is 38. Frank Maples is 82. Kevin Bailey is 54. Tipper Gore is 72.

Aug. 20: Knoxville attorney James Parker, former clerk to Judge Thomas Varlan, is 30. Artist Denise Stewart-Sanabria is 64.

Aug. 21: Firefighter Danny Beeler is 63. Bryan Hair, chief of staff to County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, is 36.

Aug. 22: Former Farragut Mayor Eddy Ford is 81. Knoxville attorney Sid Gilreath is 84. Wanda McMahan is 71. Alice Hemmings is 19.

Victor Ashe is a former Knoxville Mayor and former Ambassador to Poland. He is a columnist for Shopper News. 

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