NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Rep. Bryan Richey (R-Maryville) filed a bill to change how political candidates run for office in Tennessee.
“If you’re running for dog walker, you have to tell me whether you’re a Republican, Democrat or Independent,” he said.
The bill creates partisan elections in Tennessee at every level – both state and local.
“Candidates that are running will have to either identify as a Republican, as a Democrat or as an Independent, or if there’s another minor party affiliation that’s out there,” Richey said.
The move comes not long after the state authorized partisan elections for school boards last year, prompting some to say it’s only increasing polarization in the state.
“I don’t think there’s going to be any polarization,” Richey countered. “The individuals that are out there are voting based on their values.”
He said this bill would help voters do exactly that, allowing them to vote with a particular ideological party even if they don’t know the candidate.
Democrats don’t quite see it the same way.
“I don’t even know if that would be constitutional,” Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis) said.
He argued the bill would require political parties to start backing and funding candidates they may not really support.
“You can’t make them spend the money and the time and the effort and put their name on the ballot without them saying it’s okay,” Hardaway said.
He isn’t expecting the bill to have too much traction, and Richey himself admitted he’s not as confident on this bill as others.
“I think the bill is going to have problems from the beginning,” Hardaway said.
“I feel that we’ve got an outside shot, so to speak, on that particular piece of legislation to get it to the House floor,” Richey said, separately.
But with the legislature passing partisan school board elections last year, nothing is off the table.
Hundreds of bills will be up for debate during the 113th General Assembly. Tennessee lawmakers shared their thoughts on some of the major issues up for discussion at this year’s legislative session.
What lawmakers had to say about: Abortion Ban Clarification | Marijuana Reform | Transgender Therapy and LGBTQ+ Rights | Dept. of Children’s Services | Education | Crime/Public Safety | More
You can also find daily coverage from the session here.