KINGSPORT — State Rep. Nathan Vaughn pledged to emphasize what he’s done for Tennessee’s 2nd House District as he kicked off his re-election bid Saturday with a cookout in 90-degree heat.
The race between Vaughn, a Kingsport Democrat, and Colonial Heights Republican Tony Shipley has the potential to generate a different kind of heat.
House GOP Leader Jason Mumpower of Bristol wants the district seat for Shipley because he needs four GOP pickups for Republicans to win a majority.
But both Vaughn and Shipley indicated they would run issue-oriented campaigns.
“We’re going to be out there, and we’re going to work hard to make sure we can tell our story about the things we’ve been able to accomplish the last six years,” said Vaughn, a former Kingsport alderman who was first elected in 2002. “I care about the people of the district and I’ve worked real hard for them.”
In response, Shipley said: “I hope it’s an issue campaign. ... I hope it is one where we can air issues and the differences in our opinion and maybe more importantly the differences in our approaches to solving the pressing issues that face Tennesseans.”
Vaughn indicated the tone of the campaign will be up to Shipley.
“I am always going to run a positive campaign. ... I’m going to run a clean, upstanding campaign about the issues,” Vaughn said. “We’re going to fight the battle based on what’s good for Tennesseans, ... mean-spirited dirty politics, people are tired of it. They want us to say what we can do to help them. The people of my district are smart enough that they have ability to determine what’s good and what’s bad.”
Vaughn said he would talk about what he did this year to help balance a tight state budget and pass legislation advancing various causes.
He said he’s been named as “Legislator of the Year” by ARC, an advocacy group for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, for a bill that created a special joint committee to study mental health issues.
Another Vaughn bill that passed this year requires certain things to happen before a city can annex a state park — like Warriors Path State Park outside Kingsport.
The legislation requires that before annexation, a public comment session will be held, in addition to seeking county commission input on the move. A bill amendment requires the annexing city to do an impact study.
“The state needs to make sure (annexation) is in the best interests of the people,” Vaughn said of the bill.
Vaughn also pointed to awarding a $10,000 Community Enhancement Grant to the Kingsport Veterans Memorial project.
Vaughn said he is expecting Gov. Phil Bredesen to campaign for him.
“The governor believes I’ve done an effective job ... in 2004, the governor came and raised money for me,” Vaughn said. “I have every intention of having him back to help me to run an effective campaign.”
The last time Vaughn ran a contested race was when he defeated GOP challenger Neal Kerney in 2004 by nearly 4,000 votes.
At the end of this year’s first quarter, Vaughn held a fund-raising advantage over Shipley. Vaughn had about $56,300 cash on hand in his campaign account compared to about $13,900 for Shipley, according to the Registry of Election Finance.
The 2nd House District includes parts of Kingsport, Colonial Heights, Sullivan Gardens and Indian Springs.