October 19th, 2010
07:23 AM ET
12 years ago

CNN 100: A preacher versus a gospel singer.

Editor's Note: In the final 100 days before Election Day, CNN has been profiling one race at random each day from among the nation's top 100 House races, which we've dubbed "The CNN 100." Read the full list here.Today's featured district is:
TN 08: Rep. John Tanner (D) is retiring
Primary: August 5, 2010
Days until the election: 15

With 15 days to go until the midterm elections, it is probably fair to say that there is probably a fair amount of eye-glazing information out there about races that will come down to the wire. But this one – in Tennessee's 8th congressional district – to fill retiring Democratic Rep. John Tanner's seat – is a fantastic little burst of color into the drab black and white of the political numbers game. A preacher versus a gospel singer....what could be better than that?!

On the Republican side: Steve Fincher, is a gospel singer and farmer with a fair amount of down – home appeal. And the Democrat is Tennessee state Sen. Roy Herron, who is a preacher and local attorney. The imagery in this Tennessee smack-down has been fantastic – pick-up trucks in ads, twangy music everywhere, and some great posturing on the part of the two men who are duking it out. Herron even came out and said he wouldnt support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House, causing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to, in effect, disown him, pulling their cash out of the race. The National Republican Congressional Committee, however, is still solidly in Fincher's court, helping him get ads on the air.

One of the biggest issues in the race (aside from the constant kicking from all sides of the incumbent Democrats in Washington and the White House) is the fact that Fincher has up to this point refused to debate Herron. He has cited a myriad of scheduling conflicts (he is, after all, a farmer, with a working farm...). But Herron has capitalized on the situation, saying that Fincher's inability to debate shows that he won't stand up to Washington.

The problem for Herron is that voters across the country, including voters in Tennessee's 8th Congressional District, equate the problems in Washington with the ruling party. And despite his contrarian positioning, Herron is still a Democrat.

Both candidates had raised more than $2 million as of the September 30th filing, and each had less than $1 million left to spend as election day gets closer. Polls that are publically available show Fincher with a lead. Unless Herron can find an argument that will stick against his opponent, this seat may turn red on November 2.

Filed under: 2010 • CNN 100
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