Blanton Runs Distant Second In Tennessee Primary
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Former Gov. Ray Blanton, who blamed an FBI vendetta for his two years in prison, saw his political comeback derailed Thursday as he ran a distant third for the Democratic nomination to a congressional seat.
Blanton, accompanied by his tearful wife, Karen, addressed about two dozen supporters in Jackson, Tenn. He said prison had made him sink into depression, but his campaign supporters had ″meant more to me than you can imagine.″
″Not since our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence has someone that has been treated as I have, falsely accused, imprisoned and written off not just as a politician or a public servant but as a human being, has come back and said, ‘Look, I have something to offer’ and had so many people embrace the idea,″ Blanton said.
″I have been to the depths of depression when most people would have said I give up,″ he said.
Blanton refused to say whether he would run for any other political office, and would not discuss any reason for his loss.
Blanton was one of four Democrats vying for the chance to succeed retiring Rep. Ed Jones in the 8th District. Jones, a 19-year House veteran, has backed state Rep. John Tanner to run against the winner of the three-way GOP primary.
With 295 of 316 precincts reporting, Tanner had 43,127 votes, or 67 percent, of Democratic votes. Blanton had 6,809 or 11 percent. Jackson Mayor Robert Conger had 9,796 votes, or 15 percent; lawyer Ivy Scarbrough had 5,051, or 8 percent.
In the Republican race, lawyer Ed Bryant of Jackson came from behind to defeat Richard Jacobs, national chairman of the Young Republicans Federation, win the right to meet Tanner in November.
With 295 of 316 precincts reporting, Bryant polled 6,280 votes, or 57 percent to 3,839, or 35 percent, for Jacobs. Dan Campbell, a Memphis businessman, trailed with 810 votes or 7 percent.
For the Senate, incumbent Democrat James R. Sasser Jr., seeking his third six-year term, had no primary opposition.
In the GOP’s Senate primary, lawyer Bill Anderson, whose Kingsport law firm includes former U.S. Sen. Howard Baker as a partner, beat party activist Alice Algood and and lawyer Hubert Patty for the chance to oppose Sasser in November.
With 2,223 of the state’s 2,391 precincts reporting, Andersen had 73 percent or 102,485 votes to 22 percent or 30,718 for Mrs. Algood.
″I want to congratulate Mr. Andersen on a very energetic and successful campaign and we are going to get our campaign in high gear,″ Sasser said Thursday night.
In the 2nd District, where Republican Rep. John J. Duncan died June 21, his son, John J. Duncan Jr. of Knoxville easily won the nomination for his late father’s seat.
With all 190 precincts in the East Tennessee district reporting, Duncan had 32,813 votes, or 87 percent. Dr. Robert Proffitt had 4,913 votes, or 13 percent.
Dudley Taylor, a former state revenue commissioner, led in Democratic voting in the 2nd District.
With all 190 precincts, Taylor had 7,713 votes, or 41 percent, to 5,249 or 28 percent for Robert Scott, a chemical engineering professor. Political unknown John Bowen, who conducted no campaign, had 5,639 votes or 30 percent.
U.S. Reps. Marilyn Lloyd of Chattanooga and Harold Ford of Memphis won renomination as expected in Democratic primaries in the 3rd and 9th districts, respectively.
With all 220 precincts reporting, Ms. Lloyd had 89 percent, or 81,017 votes against newcomers Walter Ward, with 2,168 votes or 6 percent, and Lamar Lasley, with 1,822 votes or 5 percent.
Ford, with 156 of 187 precincts reporting, had 29,410 votes, or 80 percent against businessman Mark A. Flanagan, who lost to Ford for the eighth straight time. Flanagan had 7,310 votes or 20 percent.
Ford has been indicted in federal court on bank fraud charges, but no trial date has been set. He said it has not affected his campaign.
In the 7th District primary contest, Democrat Lloyd Bloodworth defeated Frances Tapp of Memphis for the right to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Don Sundquist in November.
With 279 of 327 precincts reporting, Bloodworth had 65 percent or 11,722 votes to 35 percent or 6,200 for Tapp.
Blanton, also a former congressman, spent two years in federal prison after being convicted of conspiracy, extortion and mail fraud in a public corruption case. The mail fraud counts were vacated in line with a U.S. Supreme Court decision, and Blanton is appealing the extortion and conspiracy convictions.
The ex-governor, who left office in 1979 in a swirl of controversy over the sale of pardons and liquor licenses, has said that he expects voters to realize that he was a victim of political persecution in the FBI investigation.
″They know I was railroaded and falsely accused,″ he said.
Five of the state’s nine U.S. representatives had no primary opposition. Two, Reps. Jim Cooper of the 4th District and Bob Clement of the 5th, also have no opponents in the Nov. 8 general election.
Others without primary opposition were Republican James Quillen, seeking his 13th two-year term from the 1st District; Democrat Bart Gordon of the 6th District; and Sundquis.
Democrat Sidney Smith, a retiree, was unopposed in his bid to challenge Quillen. Chemical engineer Wallace Embry had no opponents for GOP nomination to take on Gordon. Hamilton County Commissioner Harold Coker faced no contest in getting the Republican nomination for the 3rd District seat now held by Lloyd.