Midterm Madness


Dwight Burdette (CC BY 3.0) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:I_Voted_Sticker.JPG

Britten Dugan, Staff Writer

It’s November, which means three things: All the Halloween candy has been eaten, college football is heating up, and this year, the midterm elections are here! On November 8th, voters across the state and across the country will cast their votes for local elections and for the 118th Congress. In the midst of rampant inflation, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a tense political climate, and close House & Senate races, there is certainly a lot for voters to take in. This article will discuss candidates in our local elections, where these candidates stand, and steps that voters at Science Hill can take to make their voices heard.

U.S. House Race (District 1)

Having won Phil Roe’s old seat in Congress, Republican Diana Harshbarger is at the end of her first term in the U.S. House. Her congressional voting record aligns with traditional Republican stances, and she has towed the party line by voting against critical bills such as the Build Back Better Act and by supporting national security initiatives. Bills that she has drafted during her time on Capitol Hill have focused primarily on health care and national security, and she serves on the House Committee on Education & Labor and the Committee on Homeland Security.

Her primary opponent for reelection is Democratic nominee Cameron Parsons. Parsons has an educational background in biology and currently works at Eastman Chemical Company. While he has never run for office before, he hopes to draw a centrist line in the House, working across the aisle to bring innovative policies to the nation. His priorities include balancing the federal budget, lowering middle-class taxes, optimizing veterans’ health care options, and improving border security by stopping human trafficking. Parsons’ campaign also has an emphasis on political accountability, and he makes clear that he is not backed by special interest groups or large political donations. “I am just like you all,” he said in a recent WJHL questionnaire.

Two independent candidates are also running for federal office. Matt Makrom and Richard Baker both have a background in the Republican party and maintain conservative stances in their campaigns. Baker served for 3 years in the U.S. Army and ran in the republican primary for this House seat in 2020, losing to Harshbarger. His campaign takes a strong stance against socialism and proposes new referendums to limit changes within Congressional bills as they are being passed. Meanwhile, Makrom advocates for much more conservative policies, describing himself as “a Constitutional Warrior and American Nationalist” in a recent Ballotpedia survey. He warns against trusting “Godless globalist powers” and is a registered nurse in the Tri-Cities.

Gubernatorial Race

Bill Lee (R) was elected as Governor of Tennessee in 2018. Since then, he has used his experience as a cattle farmer and business owner to guide his conservative policy decisions. His first term has been marked by small-business tax cuts, prison reform & public safety initiatives, education reform, and strong pro-life legislation. Several pieces of Lee’s legislative work have stirred national controversy, especially Tennessee’s new Heartbeat Bill and new Private School Voucher program. He hopes to continue leading the state in a conservative direction if re-elected.

Democratic candidate Jason Martin is the most prominent challenger in this race. He is a physician and cites his work at Nashville General Hospital as the exigence for his political career. He has long been critical of Bill Lee’s health care legislation and has challenged Lee several times as a health care advocate for rural & underserved populations. Leveraging his medical background, he intends to expand Medicaid in the state, decriminalize marijuana, protect women’s right to choose, and invest in new broadband infrastructure.

Five independents are also running for governor as well, notably Constance Avery and John Gentry. Both of these candidates have served in the U.S. Military.

State Senate Race (District 3: Johnson, Washington, Carter County)

32-year incumbent Rusty Crowe (R) has long served as Johnson City’s state senator. Unlike several other state senators, he has a challenger this year in Democrat Kate Craig. While Crowe has worked to lower taxes and protect civil liberties, Craig is critical of Crowe’s medical monopoly-favoring legislation and hopes to improve healthcare access in Tennessee.

What can I do?

If you are 18 years old and a registered voter, you have the right to vote in these elections! In-person voting will take place in several local public buildings, including SHHS, on Tuesday November 8th. Early voting is currently taking place as well, and will end on November 3rd. If you have requested an absentee ballot to vote, these ballots are also due on November 8th.

If you are not eligible to vote, you can still make your voice heard! Most of these candidates hold frequent public events and have contact information on their campaign websites. Social media is also a great way to advocate for political change as well, and you can encourage others to vote for particular candidates or advocate for certain causes, too.