Tenn. State Senate candidate signs opponent's nominating petitio

Tenn. State Senate candidate signs opponent's nominating petition before running

Mike Alford Mike Alford
State Sen. Stacey Campfield State Sen. Stacey Campfield
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A candidate for State Sen. Stacey Campfield’s seat signed Campfield’s nominating petition before deciding to run himself.

Campfield has been a controversial figure in East Tennessee.

Last month, Campfield was under fire for comparing Obamacare to the Holocaust.

Previous story: State Sen. Stacey Campfield under fire for online post comparing Obamacare to the Holocaust

6 News found that Mike Alford, a candidate for State Sen. Dist. 7, signed Campfield’s nominating petition which was picked up March 21 and submitted March 28.

According to the Knox County Election Commission, Alford’s petition was picked up April 2 and submitted April 3, the deadline for submitting petitions.

Richard Briggs and Mike Alford are running against Campfield in the August primary.

Alford said when he signed Campfield’s nominating petition, he did not yet decide to run.

"The idea was always there in the back of my mind but it was a last second split decision to decide even though I did sign his petition," Alford said.

Alford said he did not pick up his own petition because he was in Nashville at the time.

Instead, as first reported by the Knoxville News Sentinel, Bryan Dodson picked up the petition for Alford.

According to the Tennessee General Assembly, Dodson served as Campfield’s executive secretary until he was terminated Sept. 30, 2013 for spending too much time in Knoxville when he is supposed to work from the Nashville office.

"I called a couple people and nobody was available,” Alford said. “Somebody suggested I call Bryan and he wasn't working for Stacey no more so I called him up because he could grab it walk in and walk right out."

Splitting the vote

Despite speculation that Alford is running to split the vote for Richard Briggs in Campfield’s favor, Alford told 6 News he is not running as a political tactic for Campfield.

"People that know me decided or talked me into throwing my name in the hat," Alford said.

Maryville College political science professor Mark O’Gorman said the vote against an incumbent can sometimes be split, especially in primaries.

In the 2010 primary, three candidates against Campfield received more than 50 percent of the vote and Campfield received almost 40 percent.

In the end, Campfield won with the most votes.

"It can be used in primaries very easily because the idea there is usually there's going to be a small turnout and for example if there is kind of an ABC movement, anybody but Campfield, then possibly if the Alford campaign splits the opposing vote, Campfield could win," O’Gorman said.

O’Gorman also said the ABC factor may also play a role in the primary, meaning voters looking to vote against Campfield may go for the first name listed on the ballot. The theory was first reported by the Metropulse last month.

“With Tennessee law it allows you to list the candidates alphabetically,” O’Gorman said. “You have Alford and Briggs before Campfield and so Alford might be able to pick those off first."

"I never put the ABCs together," Alford said. “It's really comical how it all worked out but that's what happened."

Campfield’s staff released this statement about Alford signing Campfield’s petition:

"I presume Mr. Alford was supporting the right of any person to run for public office, and then made the decision to run for office himself. Likewise, Dr. Briggs donated money to my campaign in 2010. I consider them both to be friends, as I do with the majority of my constituents. I would have been happy to sign both Mr. Alford and Dr. Briggs’ petitions if asked, because I believe that is how an open and democratic process works. Elected officials should not be so afraid of losing that they cease to respect the process by which they were chosen to represent their voters in the first place. I fully support open and free competition in the marketplace of ideas and look forward to an in-depth discussion with both gentlemen about the issues we’ll actually be voting on.”

Briggs declined to comment.

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