Marshall County Commission Chairman Billy Spivey on Thursday announced he's a candidate for the Republican nomination to run for the state's 65th District House seat now held by Rep. Eddie Bass.
Without other candidates in the Aug. 5 primaries, the Lewisburg Republican will face the Giles County Democrat in the Nov. 2 general election when Tennessee voters will be electing a new governor and a congressman for this area.
Spivey's announcement came mid-day Thursday during the monthly meeting of Marshall County Republican Women led by Janet Heckle at First Commerce Bank on North Ellington Parkway. The candidate's petition to be named on the ballot was filed Tuesday.
Bass, a former Giles County sheriff from Prospect, has not made an official announcement, but the Marshall County Tribune has been publishing his advertisements that say "Let's Keep Eddie as our state representative..."
Both candidates have, in their own words, noted that Americans are tired of partisan politics and so, if they're elected, they will consider issues on their merits.
"Unfortunately, our government is divided into a two-party system," Spivey told the Tribune.
"But I'm introducing myself... as Billy Spivey, husband, father, Marshall County Commission chairman, and combat veteran of Desert Storm I," he said.
"Two years ago, Eddie Bass ran unopposed," Spivey said, concluding that's not good for the republic.
"Eddie Bass is a good guy," Spivey continued. "He's a friend and we, obviously, have different ideas on what's important."
Spivey pointed to Bass' endorsement of legislation permitting gun carry permit holders to have their weapons with them in restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages.
"I'm not convinced that's where our priorities ought to be with our unemployment rate at 20 percent and with Giles County's rate at about 150 percent of the national average," said Spivey, who, if elected, would represent Giles and Marshall counties.
Bass sad, "I'm extremely proud of my voting record. I encourage everybody to look at it on the state web site. Not everybody would say that.
"I don't look at party lines," Bass said. "I look at the bill and how it affects my area."
Spivey said Bass is a Democrat in a Republican district.
Asked about what he could do as a lawmaker to improve the employment outlook for residents of Marshall and Giles counties, Spivey said, "Governments can't create jobs, but they can sure prevent them.
He criticized government "strangulation" of business "by regulation."
He also criticized government "over-involvement in the health care system."
"There are inadequate incentives for job growth," Spivey said.
Foreshadowing one aspect of his campaign, Spivey said, "I'm going to spend some time talking about ethics."
One example comes from "being a close observer of a local issue."
The nature of the ethics law and local circumstances left a Marshall County man's situation unresolved.
"The legislature drafted legislation that binds them ethically, but it was drafted by them," he said.
"What grandmother hasn't said 'If you don't want your kids to do it, you shouldn't do it,'" Spivey said. "The only interest group in Nashville that does not have a good voice is the voters... The legislature? That's been lost along the way."
In a separate interview, Bass said, "I believe what I do is to serve the people. That's always been my goal. I hope that I've succeeded with that. If I'm re-elected I intend to continue to do that.
"The biggest constituent service that I have performed is to be available to serve the people. If they call me, I will do my best to help them work out their problems. We'll work on issues from getting a drivers license to TennCare issues, on to business concerns with the state. We try to help people with all kinds of problems, small or large. If people take the time to call, it means something to them."
Spivey said he called Bass to tell him that he's running for the GOP nomination to challenge him on the November ballot. Bass said that was 2-4 weeks ago.
"I've had several of those calls before," the incumbent said. "It went fine," he said of the telephone conversation. "I told him, 'Have a nice day.'"
Spivey said he researched the position of state representative and has been in close contact with Tennessee Republican Party officials. Spivey's voter registration shows he's a Republican, but he said he examined the prospect of running as a Democrat, "but not seriously."