by Victor Ashe
The recent revelation that 2nd District Congressional candidate Jimmy Matlock skipped the three-day special session called by Gov. Bill Haslam in 2016 to rescue federal highway dollars, as well as the vote to oust a sexual predator from the state House, has triggered further questions about his attendance record over the past 12 years. It has been hit and miss for Matlock when it comes to being on the House floor for votes.
Only this year, on the last day of the 2018 session, Matlock left three hours early before the House adjourned, missing several votes, including one on the sale of liquor in Tellico Village. He represents Tellico Village but did not want to take a position on the legislation
He has yet to explain to voters why he did not attend the special legislative session. On April 10, 2014, when the state budget passed 68 to 27, Matlock was one of four House members not to vote. The budget is the single most important vote a lawmaker casts.
Meanwhile, Matlock has challenged Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett to a one-on-one debate, as if the other three candidates are irrelevant. Clever – but why would Matlock want to exclude the only woman running in this GOP contest? Burchett has participated in seven joint appearances to date.
It may be because Ashley Nickloes is making a strong favorable impression as she introduces herself, which undercuts Matlock. She is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air National Guard who has flown combat missions as recently as April. She knows military issues. She is a mother of four and lives in Blount County. Nickloes helps herself whenever she shares a platform with Matlock.
Anyone who has met her and heard her speak realizes quickly she is well qualified to serve in Congress. Many feel she has stronger and broader credentials than Matlock to serve. She shows up for work. She is articulate. She is making a good impression among voters.
This is the first time in 54 years that someone named Duncan is not on the ballot for Congress in this district. It is only the third time in those 54 years where there was a seriously contested race in both parties with the first in 1964 and the other in 1988.
Renee Hoyos and Josh Williams are seeking the Democratic nomination. Hoyos is seen as the likely winner among Democrats.
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Ambassador Victor Ashe is a former Tennessee State Senator, served as Mayor of Knoxville and later as U.S. Ambassador to Poland.