The newest candidate in Tennessee’s 3rd District congressional race is hoping a small-scale approach will have a big payoff come August.
Dr. Mary Headrick, a 63-year-old emergency room and acute care physician from Maynardville, announced last week she would be seeking the Democratic Party nomination to challenge Rep. Chuck Fleischmann for his seat in Congress.
Headrick’s entry into the race now means there will be contested primaries for both Democrats and Republicans in August. Bill Taylor, a Chattanooga businessman, had been the only Democrat to have announced congressional intentions prior to Headrick.
In an interview with Nooga.com, Headrick said she was running for office out of dissatisfaction with the current choice of candidates, and she wanted to denounce the amount of special interest money involved in modern campaign finance.
“I think it’s important for the democratic process to let the people have a choice,” Headrick said. “The obscene amount of money in politics has taken away the one man, one vote concept. It’s been frustrating to see the messaging that has so twisted the issues. That mixed messaging is paid for.”
Headrick said she is disappointed that corporate money is funneled to campaigns through Political Action Committees, along with the ability for PACs to run advertisements on behalf of their candidates in elections.
“There needs to be a constitutional amendment that says corporations are not people when it comes to electioneering and that they should not be able to spend any money when it comes to free speech,” she said. “The lack of disclosure and the amount of money in politics from wealthy folks has damaged our system.”
Despite being told by party officials that the 3rd District race would cost “at least $330,000” to run, Headrick said she has no intention of raising that amount. The candidate said she hoped to run an “inexpensive but effective” grassroots campaign, based on meetings with small groups and wearing out shoe leather between now and August.
As a resident of Union County, Headrick said she was still developing her strategy for getting her message to the majority of 3rd District voters, living in Hamilton County and Southeast Tennessee.
“I’m a little bit bashful, so I’m going to have to learn how to do this,” Headrick said. “As a physician, I’m used to meeting with people one-on-one in the same room.”
Along with Headrick and Taylor, three other candidates have announced campaigns for the 3rd District seat, all of whom are Republicans. Ron Bhalla, Weston Wamp and Dr. Jean Howard-Hill will be on the ballot against Fleischmann for the Aug. 2 GOP primary.