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The Cumberland County Democratic Women offered up a tasty meal with all the fixin’s Monday night as state and local candidates campaigned and announced their intentions to seek offices.

Four gubernatorial candidates vying for the bid to represent the Democratic Party 16 months from now in the race for governor of Tennessee gathered with Cumberland County party faithfuls in search of votes and support Monday night.

Speaking to the gathering were candidates Ward Camac, a businessman from Middle Tennessee; state Sen. Roy Herron from West Tennessee; former state Rep. Kim McMillan from Clarksville; and Middle Tennessee businessman Mike McWherter.

At the end of the evening local candidates were allowed to introduce themselves and declare their intentions. District Attorney General Randy York announced plans to seek election to the post he was appointed to earlier this year.

Judy Graham-Swallows, incumbent Register of Deeds, announced her intention to seek re-election. Crossville Police Det. Gene Hall and retired Tennessee State Trooper Jackie Stevens announced their candidacy for sheriff.

Incumbent Court Clerk Larry Sherrill, who is home recovering from surgery, sent word that he plans to seek re-election and it was announced that Crossville Fire Chief Mike Turner was going to run against Republican and incumbent County Mayor Brock Hill.

It was also announced that Charles Rains, a member of the Bledsoe County Commission and resident of the Pikeville area, will run for state representative against incumbent Eric Swafford.

Also attending was chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, Chip Forrester, making the evening a rare opportunity to hear some of the movers and shakers in the state.

Forrester reminded the local Democrats that the 2010 election was crucial to the future of state Democrats because it will be a year of redistricting, which will affect not only U.S. Congressional Districts, but state districts as well.

The event was the annual Cumberland County Democratic Women's picnic held on a seasonably cool evening at Cumberland Mountain State Park and featured a down home dinner-on-the-grounds atmosphere with plenty of political rhetoric served along with the homemade desserts.

Retired state Sen. Anna Belle Clement O'Brien was recognized and spoke briefly to the crowd, saying it was her hope that Democrats would go out and "be for a candidate, not against one."

Forrester paid tribute to O'Brien, saying that she held a reputation in Nashville while serving in government for extending a hand down "to lift up and tell what being a Democrat was all about."

He went on to state that Cumberland County was "blessed and cursed" for having Democrats like Miss Anna Belle and having Republican state Rep. Eric Swafford.

All four gubernatorial candidates hit on key issues facing the state and all seemed to be on the theme of bettering education and technical training so that Tennesseans can compete in the world market for better paying jobs.

McMillan spent her time introducing herself to the local Democrats and talked about her experience as an attorney, state lawmaker and a past member of Gov. Phil Bredesen's cabinet.

She told of her support for the CoverKids legislation and the Better Education Program. "We need to attract new, good jobs for Tennessee,"

McMillan said, and the way to do that is to raise the education bar to face future challenges in the job market relating to technology.

McWherter, a Jackson businessman, talked of his concern over the thousands of Tennesseans who have lost their jobs during the recent economic downturn. He admitted that he was a businessman and not so much a politician, but contends that better equips him to tackle economic and health care issues facing the state.

"We need better accountability, better education accreditation and we need to balance the budget without an income tax," said McWherter. He also said that the next governor needs to not only know how to attract jobs, but keep those jobs.

Ward Camac, a Shelbyville businessman, spoke of the value to him of having the opportunity to go to business school late in his career. He spoke of what kind of business value Tennesseans want for their state.

Do they want to be known for guns in bars, the TVA fly ash spill and poor graduation rates, Camac asked. Or do they want Tennessee to be known for its diversity in landscape, people and clean energy.

"We need to situate Tennessee in a position to compete with other states and on the global market, to be a leader in green," Camac said.

Tennessee's economic and job market lot can be greatly improved by advancing technology and applications in geo-thermal energy, bio-energy and green-related jobs, Camac said.

Herron, a former Methodist minister, said he has grown tired of Republicans promoting the idea "that all Democrats are evil. I am sick and tired of Republicans spelling God, GOP."

He added, "There are good Republicans ... but you don't have to be a Republican to be a Christian."

He went on to state that the countries, and states, are judged by Biblical standards of, "How do we treat the least of these." He said it was a good standard for the faithful and for politicians to protect the poor, women, veterans and the elderly.

"The state should be concerned with working people and hurting people," said Herron.

All spoke highly of their fellow candidates and all urged unity after the primary ballot counting was finished.

Beth Hickman was in attendance representing U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis who was busy in Washington D.C. dealing with health care legislation, and Crossville Mayor J.H. Graham III spoke about the importance of the stimulation package to Crossville, with millions going to water and sewer projects.

County Party Chairman Dennis Gregg announced at the end of the picnic that a party social will be held at the Thunderbird Rec Hall in Lake Tansi on Aug. 13 at 7 p.m.

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