Early voting underway in Tennessee

newsroom@tri-statedefender.com | 10/15/2014, 12:10 p.m.

GOVERNOR: Republican Gov. Bill Haslam faces little serious opposition from Democratic nominee Charlie Brown, a politically unknown retiree from Morgan County in eastern Tennessee. Haslam re-election bid has largely centered on a minute-long TV ad featuring children espousing his qualities. The governor has shied away from making the campaign about difficult political decisions he might if re-elected — such as Medicaid expansion, Common Core education standards or a gas tax increase.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS: Voters will decide on four proposed changes to the Tennessee Constitution. To be adopted, they would need a majority of the number of votes cast in the governor's race. The amendments would grant the legislature more power to regulate abortions in the state; underscore the current merit selection process for Supreme Court and appeals judges; ban a state income tax in Tennessee; and allow nonprofit veterans groups to hold charitable gaming fundraisers.

CONGRESS: While all nine U.S. representatives are on the ballot, only Rep. Scott DesJarlais in the 4th District appears to face a serious challenge. DesJarlais, a Jasper physician who now opposes abortion rights, won the GOP primary by 38 votes in August, despite a series of personal scandals that included affairs with patients, urging a mistress to seek an abortion and once holding a gun in his mouth for hours outside his ex-wife's room. He faces Democrat Lenda Sherrell of Monteagle.

WINE IN SUPERMARKETS: A multiyear legislative fight resulted in a law that allows cities and counties that already allow liquor by the drink or package store sales to hold referendums on whether to allow wine sales in supermarkets. Under the old law, grocery stores couldn't sell any alcohol stronger than beer, while liquor stores were banned from selling anything other than booze and lottery tickets. Dozens of communities around the state will vote on the supermarket wine referendum.

LEGISLATURE: All 99 members of the House and 17 of 33 Senate seats are up for election this year, though Republicans hold such vast majorities in both chambers that the results are unlikely to make a big difference in the partisan landscape at the state Capitol. Among the familiar faces not returning are longtime Democratic Sens. Douglas Henry of Nashville, who is retiring, and Jim Kyle of Memphis, who has been elected to a judgeship. Meanwhile two controversial Republican lawmakers, Sen. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville and Rep. Tony Shipley of Kingsport, were defeated in their primaries.

NOTE: In Shelby County, Early Voting is available at ALL 21 satellite sites. Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.