Another Republican candidate has emerged to challenge state Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville—this one from South Knoxville and associated with a mega-church. James (Eddie) Smith, who has run communications for Sevier Heights Baptist Church and is active in the Right to Life movement, has qualified to run and has been visiting Republican clubs and dinners to introduce himself around.
Smith joins Jason Emert, another Republican candidate, in challenging Johnson. Nick Cazana, who ran as an independent last time, has also qualified.
Johnson is a frequent critic of Gov. Bill Haslam’s education reforms and has emerged as a leader of Democratic opposition in the state House of Representatives. She is very popular in the party and the Republicans would like to capture her seat.