Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Better know a district: Tennessee's 8th Congressional District

Tennessee's 8th Congressional District

Location: the city of Jackson, parts of Clarksville, fringes of the Memphis suburbs

Population: 632,143

Ethnicity: 75.2% White
22.4% Black
1.6% Hispanic
0.5% Asian
0.3% Native American
0.1% Other

Median income: $33,001

Current Representative: Stephen Fincher (R) (2011-present)

Fun fact #1: His office hired attractive interns.  This includes one girl who I had a crush on during the time of my internship.

Rep. Fincher was elected to the House of Representatives during the Tea Party Wave of 2010 when Democratic Congressman John Tanner retired.  Fincher sits on the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Financial Services. 

Fincher was the managing partner in Fincher Farms.  He had previously not served in a political position prior to running for Congress.  His slogan in 2010 was "my roots are in Tennessee, not in politics."  In 2010, Fincher defeated Democratic State Senator Roy Herron 59%-38.8%.  In doing so, Fincher became the first Republican to represent Tennessee's 8th Congressional District since 1898.  Fincher was criticized for not taking part in a series of debates and his campaign criticized Herron's campaign because Herron's campaign called for Fincher to disclose his income tax returns.

After the 2010 census, the 8th Congressional District became slightly more Republican with the inclusion of more areas of the Memphis suburbs.  Fincher defeated Democratic candidate Timothy Dixon by nearly 40 percentage points. 

In the past, socially conservative Democrats have succeeded in TN-8 but since the turn of the 21st century the district has become slightly more Republican.  The rural areas of the district want there to be social conservatives in the House but focus on public works projects for the area. 

Fincher is a staunch Conservative in both social and fiscal issues.  He is a member of the Tea Party Caucus although he is/was not officially a Tea Party candidate.  He is pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, and anti-same-sex marriage.  Because of his rural background and his strong commitment to the 2nd Amendment issues he received the largest election contribution from the NRA, more than any other Senator or Representative.  He was endorsed by Citizens United, as well.

In October of 010, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) announced it was conducting an investigation because of a $250,000 loan from the Gates Banking and Trust Company, where Fincher's father is a board member.    Fincher did not disclose the loan on his FEC filings.  He initially stated that the $250,000 was from the candidate's personal funds.  In July of 2011, the FEC announced that Fincher had violated federal election law.

Like all Republicans who have received farm subsidies in the past, he has received criticism for his votes on the Farm Bill.  Fincher was the 2nd largest recipient of farm subsidies in the United States Congress.  While in Congress, he has advocated for an amendment that would slash the food stamp budget while expanding crop insurance by $9 billion.
 
Fincher should be able to get re-elected to his Congressional seat for awhile.  It does not seem to be very competitive.  Unless the voters of TN-8 seek to find more members of the socially conservative Democratic wing, Fincher will be able to stay in office.  But due to the lack of his Congressional ambition (1 bill sponsored, so far in his tenure), he is unlikely to rise very far in politics at this time.

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