RuCo race another battle between GOP right and center

Jul 13, 2017

Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess (left) and State Rep. Dawn White

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  An upcoming race for Rutherford County’s state Senate seat is highlighting the continuing struggle within the Republican Party between the conservative and moderate wings of the GOP.

State Senator Bill Ketron recently announced that he plans to run for Rutherford County Mayor next year. That prompted the current county mayor, Ernest Burgess, to announce his candidacy for the seat Ketron is vacating in the Senate. State Rep. Dawn White then quickly jumped in to challenge Burgess.

Middle Tennessee State political scientist Kent Syler says the match-up between Burgess and White follows a now familiar pattern.

“Her strategy will be to get to the right of Mayor Burgess. Mayor Burgess’ strategy will be to demonstrate that he is a prove problem solver with the most experience.”

Syler says Democrats will likely run a candidate as well, but adds that’s going to be a real uphill slog for whatever Democrat takes on the challenge.

“It is a Republican district and we have two strong Republican candidates already in the race seeking their party’s nomination.”

Burgess and White have one year to make their case to voters.  The Republican primary set for August, 2018.

Kent Syler notes Republican U.S. Senator Bob Corker, also a moderate, may face his own primary challenge from the right next summer. There’s some buzz that State Senator Mark Green may jump in the race  for Corker's seat.