Next Month's Primary Is a Golden Opportunity to Screw With Campfield

There is an election next month, with early voting beginning Feb. 15. Did you know Stacey Campfield is on the ballot?

Campfield is on the slate of delegates committed to Newt Gingrich for president. If you vote as a Republican (which you can choose to do in Tennessee's open primaries, no matter your actual party affiliation), you can select up to 14 delegates from 53 listed on the ballot. That means 52 ways to not vote Campfield!

Better still, you are in essence offering invitations to the Republican convention. Regardless of which candidate emerges as the front-runner, I want to see Ron Paul supporters in force at the convention. They are the only Republican faction with the courage to stand up to the party's conformists, so they will make the convention unpredictable.

Will you join me in an act of civil disobedience? Make a statement against Stacey Campfield and the Republican establishment that refuses to condemn his dangerous medical advice. Vote to send all 11 delegates committed to Ron Paul to the party's convention.

Obviously Republicans will object to this scheme, and here is my advice for them: Keep party business off the public ballot. Everybody's tax dollars fund the printing of ballots and administration of this election. If you don't want public input on party matters, don't use public money.

When you step into the voting booth with your monkey wrench, be aware that two county offices are up for election: property assessor and law director. Democrats do not have a candidate in either contest, so voting as a Republican is the only way to have a say in who will hold those offices for the next four years.

The property assessor will be evaluating 212,000 parcels by the end of next year, so your property tax bill or your rent may be on the line. It's a contest between term-limited former assessor John Whitehead and his successor, Phil Ballard. The campaign has been acrimonious, with Whitehead pulling out to an early lead in exaggerations and distortions. If you would prefer to see the Black Wednesday faction of the local GOP fade into the past, vote for Ballard.

The law director's contest offers a similar choice. Incumbent Joe Jarret moved here from Florida in 2007 and has little connection to the matriarchs, elitists, and ideologues who drive local Republican politics. They have aligned behind Bud Armstrong, former county commissioner and Skaggston native.

Armstrong was an able commissioner, an advocate for East Knox County who helped stop the Midway Business Park, and he is a good-hearted man. Most recently he ran unsuccessfully against Ed Shouse for an at-large County Commission seat. Armstrong can serve the community well as a legislator, but he is simply not qualified to be law director, his doublespeak campaign slogan notwithstanding.

Armstrong got his law degree in 2008 from an unaccredited law school, and he has scant experience with civil law. By contrast, Joe Jarret had a long career in the Tampa area serving as a government attorney. Polk County, Fla., has a charter government similar to Knox County's. Florida's Sunshine laws are nearly identical to Tennessee's. Jarret has published numerous articles in law journals and has seen all manner of legal challenges, including having to battle the ACLU. He told commissioners their holiday creche was illegal, and he lost the court battle just like he promised.

When previous law director Bill Lockett fell under the shadow of scandal, County Commission turned to Jarret for guidance and voted him into office once Lockett finally resigned. His job is to oversee legal matters for all county officials, and with the mess in the trustee's office this is no time to put a legal novice at the helm. In addition, a charter review committee has been assembled, and the county is on the clock to meet requirements of a new water pollution permit. Bad legal advice in those realms could have dire consequences.

There has never been a better time to cast a Republican ballot against the GOP establishment.