Haslam family members, business folks and others with connections to the Chamber of Commerce are backing Tracie Sanger. A lot. Like $43,045. She has four times as much money as Jamie Rowe ($9,300), who has supporters giving to her that have been critical of Jim McIntyre. Victor Ashe, Sally Absher, former County Commissioner R. Larry Smith. And there are others giving to Rowe, like City Councilman Nick Della Volpe’s wife.
A note on family contributions: It’s common to see spouses/family members of people giving to candidates in elections. Sometimes the motivations are pure, sometimes not. Not speculating on that here. But, for example, I have seen some journalists through the years – who should be trusted to be objective and not have financial ties to elections of any kind – funnel money to candidates via donations they’ve made under their spouses’ names. Which is wrong.
It’s worth nothing here that not all people funding Sanger and not all people funding Rowe are pro- or anti- Knox County Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre, but that’s an easy way to over-simplify the issue … or polarize it, if you have an interest in doing such things.
Both candidates say the financial support they’ve received doesn’t mean their vote can be bought (I’m paraphrasing, here).
Some have made an issue of the places where donors live. Both candidates have donors that live outside the district. It is common for candidates in elections of all levels to receive money that’s coming from outside the district. Look at the Koch brothers funding PACs across the country for evidence of that. People taking issue with that says more about them having a problem with the candidate (or the interests of the funding sources) than taking an issue with the funding method itself. If someone’s side is winning and they have all the cash, then you’re not likely to hear them complain.
On that email from West High School’s PTSA – don’t expect the IRS to come shut them down for weighing in on a race in the same county. Related, preachers campaign on behalf of causes from the pulpit with embarrassing regularity.
As for Charlotte Dorsey – she gave a loan to herself for $5,500 and has the smallest campaign budget. And this was cut from the story because of the limited space in print, but she has a Haslam connection too: she was a principal at a school where some of the family’s children attended.
But don’t expect people to make much of a big deal of that. Here’s a little armchair analysis of the race: People looking for a change to the regime are going to be split between Dorsey and Rowe, and those who are left will vote for Sanger. Outcome? Too close to tell at this point.
As a reporter friend of mine once said: I don’t care who wins, as long as it’s a landslide.
On a side note – keep in mind, as has been extensively reported, that firing Jim McIntyre would require a buyout of his contract, which would be expensive, and both the chair (Mike McMillan) and vice chair (Doug Harris) of Knox County’s school board have said that’s not an option worth pursuing.
As one observer at the forum told me yesterday – a Knox County Commissioner – he has watched McMillan go from being on the short side of votes in 8-1 decisions on school board to be named Chairman of the board. And some are saying that the 2nd District race is another referendum on McIntyre.