Spivey eyes House; Ketron Congress

Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Map from state Web site Marshall County will no longer have state Rep. Eddie Bass (D-Prospect) as its representative in the Tennessee House since the county is separated from Giles and connected to parts of Lincoln, Franklin and Marion counties by redistricting.

New political district lines for the state House and Senate and Congress raised extra speculation last week when redistricting maps were released from Capitol Hill in Nashville.

Marshall County Republican Party Chairman Billy Spivey, a former chairman of the county commission, is considering a run for state House again. Rep. Eddie Bass was re-elected, but the former Giles County sheriff's jurisdiction was separated from Marshall County by the state Redistricting Committee.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro - still representing Marshall - notes that proposed Congressional District lines include this area that, overall, returned him to office with well over two-thirds of the vote.

"I'd be foolish not to consider it," he said of campaigning for the GOP nomination to run for Congress against incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, the first-term congressman who defeated Lincoln Davis' bid to stay in Washington.

It's a safe race for Ketron. He'll be completing his second year of a


term as the November election day draws near this year, so if he lost, he'd still be a state senator. If he's elected to Congress, then there's a state senate seat to fill.

"I'm not announcing yet, but once I see the maps, I'll probably consider that race" for Congress," Ketron said. "The last time I saw (the new map) Bedford, Rutherford, Marshall and Moore are going into the 4th (Congressional District). But everything is subject to change" when it comes to the congressional district map.

As for the state Senate map, Marshall County is in a district that would be represented by Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville.)

"I plan on running for re-election to the state Senate," Tracy said in a Monday e-mail. "I will not be a candidate for Congress in 2012."

Tracy lives within the district that would be served by DesJarlais if the incumbent is re-elected. With new state Senate lines, Tracy's re-election campaign in the August primary and the November election will be waged in Marshall and Lincoln counties as well as those he's been serving, Bedford, Moore and Rutherford counties.

"In making this decision (against running for Congress,) I do want to thank those who have called or sent notes regarding the congressional district," Tracy said.

Tracy wants to continue "to make Tennessee a better place to work and live, especially in the areas of job creation, education and transportation," he said.

New district lines prompted speculation and allegations about gerrymandering. The practice of drawing district lines for political advantage was described by the word first published by the Boston Gazette in 1812 when Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry signed a bill to confer political advantage to his party. One district was said to look like a salamander. The Gazette ran a political cartoon drawn to show a mythical creature, the gerrymander.

In redrawing state House political lines this year, lawmakers in Nashville included all of Marshall County in a district that also includes the southern portions of Lincoln, Franklin and Marion counties.

"It's the best example of gerrymandering that I've seen," Franklin County Mayor Richard Stewart said when asked about the new 92nd District for the State House of Representatives.

The Town of Huntland and unincorporated parts of Franklin County known as Keith Springs and Sherwood have residents who "feel left out sometimes," Stewart said of those living close to the Alabama border and in the new district. That feeling of being left out is a result of a geographical separation by distance and mountains between those people and the county seat, Winchester. The new district line adds to that sense of disenfranchisement, according to Stewart.

Meanwhile, Spivey complimented state lawmakers' on how they redrew district lines. His remark was while he discussed the new Congressional District line, but seems to apply to the overall job by the committee.

"That, in itself, seems to fit a requirement that the legislature's redistricting committee had for the districts by way of the census and the demographics," Spivey said. "I thought they did a fabulous job."

Stewart noted Lincoln County has been split by a House District line, a geopolitical fact he knows well. His son, Eric, represents much of that territory in the state Senate and the Franklin County mayor spoke openly about the prospect of state Sen. Eric Stewart running for the just reconfigured 4th Congressional District.

"And Marshall County will be in that, the way it looks now," Richard Stewart said.

That would then seem to create a November contest between Eric Stewart and either Ketron or DesJarlais.

"We've heard that Bill (Ketron) will be running against Scott DesJarlais for the GOP nomination," Richard Stewart said.

The primaries are in early August. Redistricting was to become effective on Tuesday, Richard Stewart said.

Spivey was cautious about how he discussed the prospect of him running again for a seat in the state House. He won a majority of the votes in Marshall County when he challenged Bass, but Giles County voters for Bass overcame the advantage here. Spivey was asked if a Marshall County candidate would have a "leg-up," or natural advantage in a race for state House because the entire county is in the district - anchoring the district - while there are only sparsely populated parts of Lincoln, Franklin and Marion counties in the rest of the territory.

"Not necessarily a leg up," Spivey replied, "but a good strong candidate should have an equal opportunity. It would just so happen that if I ran, I would be a candidate who put a previous effort into it."

It would be "presumptuous" to think that just because someone is from Marshall County they would have an advantage in the 92nd District House Race, he said. "You could try to interpret all kinds of things from it. I haven't taken the time to digest the Senate and Congressional districts, other than to see who would be representing us, those being Tracy and DesJarlais."

The new lines also mean that U.S. Rep. Diane Black (R-Lebanon) won't represent Marshall County starting next year when the results of the November elections take effect.

"Congressman Black and Sen. Ketron are both friends of mine," Spivey said. "I'm equally excited to be represented by Sen. Tracy and Congressman DesJarlais who are also friends of mine."

As for the Marshall Republican's prospects, Ketron spoke of the new district, Spivey and state Republican Party help that might be available if Spivey decided to run for the state House again.

"Maybe Beth Harwell likes Billy Spivey," Ketron said.

Harwell is speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives. She appointed the Redistricting Committee chaired by state Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parker's Crossroads, Henderson County in West Tennessee).

Asked directly if he will run, Spivey replied, "There are some things I have to get in order to be able to (run) but it is certainly in consideration."

As for when he will decide, Spivey said, "Convention would dictate that it would be relatively soon, but I'm at the mercy of my boss, who is my wife."

Furthermore, he is "also actively serving as chairman of the Marshall County Republican Party," Spivey said. "There would be a lot of things that would have to be rearranged for me to pursue it."

Since he returned to a lower profile lifestyle - he'd been chairman of the county commission - Spivey turned his attentions to working at Walker Die Casting, a big employer here that has major developments at its industrial park plant.

He's also sought to complete restoration of his 1967 Chevrolet Camaro so that he could display it at the several Lewisburg Cruise In events on the public square this summer.

"But it may become a campaign chariot," he said. "You never know, that is if I'm not too scared to scratch it."

The county Republican Party is scheduled to meet Tuesday next week at 6:30 p.m. in a location to be announced.

Marshall County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett was also asked if his county would be the dominant factor in the election of a state representative in November.

"It possibly could work that way, but you can't second guess what people will do," Liggett said. "The map might be interpreted that way, but I don't think (that interpretation) is set in stone" as a political fact of life.

"Right now," Liggett said when asked if he might want to run for the state House, "I don't have any intentions of doing that."

Even if the next state representative isn't from Marshall County, Liggett said Bass will still help local causes here: "I think Eddie will help anybody who needs help along those lines. Whether he plans to run again is the next thing. I don't know what his thoughts are on that."

As for Tracy succeeding Ketron as the county's state senator, Liggett said, "We've already used Jim quite a bit and have talked with him.

The new lines are "just the way they had to draw the map," he said.

Liggett also believes that Ketron "will come out as a challenger" in the Republican primary this August. "He's made a comment that if Rutherford County came into that district, he'd take a shot at it. Of course he'd be running against DesJarlais and he's an incumbent. He did well before in this district."

Meanwhile, Liggett says he's not heard of anyone else who might run for Congress.

"It's only a two-year term and it costs a lot of money to run," he said, and besides, "Congress is a different animal..."