The Importance of Being A

There is widespread suspicion that state Sen. Stacey Campfield got his friend Mike Alford to get into the state Senate race, joining Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs in running against him. Two opponents splits the anti-Campfield vote, which is what happened the last time he ran. Alford's petition was turned in by a guy who used to work for Campfield.

But why would Campfield recruit a candidate who might steal votes from him?

Some voters are not as discerning as you are, dear reader. If they don't know anything about the candidates in a race, they just vote for the first name on the ballot.

That would be Alford as in Mike.

Then Briggs as in Richard

Then Campfield as in Stacey.

So Alford would get these voters instead of Briggs. Alford can also get some votes from people who don't like Campfield, but aren't Briggs fans either. If the lesser-known Alford gets between 5 and 10 percent of the vote that doesn't go to Briggs, it could be a difference maker. Alford, who once ran for County Commission, is expected to wage a vigorous campaign.

If you don't think the position on the ballot is a real phenomenon, recall the Democratic primary in the last race for U.S. Senate. The winner, instead of the party-recruited favorite Park Overall, was a fellow on the ballot with the last name Clayton. As in Mark Clayton.

The state Democratic Party is taking steps to make sure it doesn't happen this year in the gubernatorial race. Mark Clayton, who was disavowed by the party in 2012 for his views, has qualified to run in the Democratic primary for governor. But the state Democratic Party executive committee plans to disallow his candidacy and deny him a place on the ballot in the Democratic primary.

Interesting thing to watch in the general election is whether the little-known Democratic candidate (whoever it is) gets more votes against Gov. Bill Haslam than independent candidate John Jay Hooker.