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GOP'er admits Gordon not liberal
Sep 30, 2004 12:00 am
Nick Demas concedes longtime incumbent and Democrat Congressman Bart Gordon is not a liberal.
It is a departure for Republican candidates in the 6th District Congressional race, but Gordon's political positions are not the main issue, Demas admits.
"He is not that terribly liberal," says Demas, 70, and the GOP's nominee to face Gordon in November. "The problem is that he does not participate in the national dialogue. … Anybody that has been in Congress that long needs to either show up as a star or get out."
Demas, a retired professor from Tennessee Tech, won the GOP nomination to face Gordon in August from a field of political unknowns.
Demas' slant on Gordon's two decades in Congress is a different approach given the GOP's track record in the 6th District over the last decade.
With more suburban development in the district, the Tennessee Republican Party and National Republican Congressional Committee repeatedly targeted Gordon's seat.
Gordon fought two of the nastiest election battles in state history with now radio talk show host Steve Gill in 1994 and 1996, winning both contests.
After 2001 redistricting, Gordon was able to shed the two most Republican areas of the old 6th District, West Wilson County and all of Williamson County.
Demas referred to the changes in the 6th District as "gerrymandering" and said it was an example of Gordon's political skills rather than his willingness as Tennessee's senior Congressman to contribute at a higher level.
"I consider one of my biggest assets to be that I am not a professional politician," Demas said insistingly. "I am running for service alone."
Gordon's campaign appears willing to stand on its record, citing numerous issues where it says Gordon has been a leader in Congress.
Gordon campaign manager Mike Terry pointed to Gordon's role as the senior Democrat on the House Commerce Committee as well as his backing of the COPS grant program in the 1990s, the National Do-Not-Call list and recent legislation on sports agents.
"Obviously, we disagree with those statements completely," Terry fires back. "If you look at Bart's issues and the legislation he has championed over the years he has been a leader not only for the 6th District but for all of Tennessee."
Demas' fight will be in even more of an uphill climb than well-funded GOP candidates in the past like Gill, who raised nearly $1 million for each contest.
"The only way to do this is hard work," said Demas, who admits he has no campaign staff. "I have been meeting a lot of people and shaking a lot of hands."
Managing Editor Clint Brewer can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 13 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.