Richard Locker, Mid-South News, June 26, 2004
A grassroots Republican group is denouncing what it calls the “candidate of hate” on the Aug. 5 GOP primary ballot for the 8th congressional district and is instead backing the new write-in candidacy of a traditional Republican.
The views of James L. Hart of Buchanan, Tenn., the only Republican on the Aug. 5 ballot for the West Tennessee congressional seat, are controversial. His Web site (www.jameshartforcongress.com) focuses on his views on “eugenics” to cut birth rates among what he calls “less favored races” and increase births among “more favored races.”
Hart describes “less favored races” as “the less favored races of sub-Saharan Africa, which Hollywood continues to call black.”
Hart, 60, was the only candidate to enter the Republican primary for the West Tennessee congressional seat by the April 1 deadline. Without an opponent, he was set to win the nomination to take on eight-term U.S. Rep. John Tanner, a Democrat, in the November general election.
But a financial analyst and former military officer, Dennis Bertrand of Newbern, Tenn., has announced a write-in candidacy for the Republican nomination, citing Hart’s views as being against Republican principles.
And he picked up the backing this week of TeamGOP, a statewide grassroots Republican organization. The group issued a press release Monday saying it “denounces and repudiates” Hart’s candidacy.
“TeamGOP calls for all Republicans to unite against the politics of hate and endorse and support the candidacy of Dennis Bertand,” it said.
One of TeamGOP’s three directors and founders, Jeff Ward of Tipton County, said Friday he issued the statement because, “I’m a Republican and I don’t want to have people like that carrying our flag.”
Hart, a real estate agent in Murray, Ky., acknowledged Friday that he did not expect to beat Tanner and that he’s not surprised the Republicans oppose him. “I just wanted to spread my ideas,” he said.
When he ran as an independent against Tanner in 2002, he polled only 4,288 votes, or 2.6 percent.
“I’m not sure I would accept the word hate, but I think they have every right to oppose my campaign and to have another candidate. I think it’s true that I don’t represent the ideas of the Republican Party,” Hart said.
Bertrand, 53, said Hart’s views prompted him to enter the race. He returned April 9 from active duty in the Tennessee National Guard, including several months last year in Iraq. That was too late to have his name on the printed ballot for the Aug. 5 primary.
Tennessee law allows write-in candidates, but voters must request a write-in ballot. If he receives more votes than Hart, Bertand’s name will appear as the Republican nominee on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.
“We’re just getting started. I’ve talked to the (party) chairmen in the 19 counties in the 8th district and everyone seems positive. It’s going to take a lot of effort,” Bertrand said.
“I saw Mr. Hart’s Web site and decided somebody should do something. The beliefs he holds are just totally out of sync with anything the Republican Party believes. I couldn’t see us putting forth a candidate that doesn’t represent any of our views.”
Bertrand said he’s for lower taxes and for increasing efforts to lure technical jobs to the district, including federal aid for the state technology centers in the region.