One of the more interesting local races is that between State Representative Gloria Johnson and challenger Elaine Davis in the 13th House District.
Johnson served one term in the House, beating Gary Loe in 2012, before losing reelection two years later to Republican Eddie Smith. Johnson ran again in an attempt to reclaim her seat in the House in the next election cycle, but lost to Smith once again. Johnson and Smith faced off again in 2016 with Smith the victor.
In 2018 – – – Gloria Johnson has been the Democratic nominee in the 13th house District six times now – – – Johnson and Smith fought their third consecutive race. Until 2018, the races had been close, with the victor winning by a few hundred votes. In 2018, Gloria Johnson won decisively and some Republicans thought Rep. Eddie Smith had taken the race for granted and hadn’t worked as hard as he should have.
Elaine Davis, who served a brief time as a Knox County Commissioner by appointment, is off and running and she is working. Davis is also well able to articulate her point of view. A former Democrat who is now a Republican, Elaine Davis presents a different kind of candidacy, one that Gloria Johnson has never faced before.
Both candidates are women and both candidates are vocal in their beliefs; in fact, that is a point of contention between them. Davis urges voters in the 13th House District to support her as a candidate who will go to Nashville and be able to get things done. Johnson has expertly promoted herself and her beliefs through social media and every other media outlet available to her. Johnson has been more than vocal; even some Democrats admit privately Gloria is more talk than action and therein lies the rub. Johnson blusters against the Republican “supermajority” and refers to Davis’ “masters” in the GOP, while promoting herself as a deep thinker and one who is interested in the welfare of her constituents. Of course every successful politician stays in office by either reflecting the views of the people he/she represents, or convincing a majority of the electorate he/she truly cares about the people. Yet Johnson is undeniably a bitter partisan and a far-left liberal, having her picture made taking giving the “Black Power” salute and constantly gnawing at the heels of Governor Bill Lee. Johnson, a retired teacher, can’t say enough in support of teachers unions and throughout the difficulty of this year, which has been hard for a lot of working-class folks, Gloria has repeatedly complained teachers haven’t been given a raise. Johnson complains education in Knox County is underfunded, when the Knox County School system alone spends $500,000,000 state, federal and local tax dollars annually. Every taxpayer in Knox County is also a federal, state and local taxpayer. The average teacher works 9 months out of the year (two months off in the summer and four week-long breaks built into the school calendar) and earns an average salary of $48,700 yearly.
Johnson was bitterly opposed to the voucher program proposed by Governor Lee and like most every item on her agenda, blusters, huffs and puffs without making much of an impact, aside from keeping her base fired up, which can make a difference in a political race.
Johnson likes to say as a Democrat, her ability to pass legislation is all but impossible because of the Republican “supermajority.” Yet Davis rightly points out other Democrats haven’t found that to be an impediment to getting needed bills passed. Elaine Davis notes 81% of Johnson’s Democratic colleagues have been able to get legislation passed. Not Gloria and one thing to consider is Johnson is such a partisan Democrat, she has no desire to reach across the aisle to work with the majority party. Apparently, there is no middle ground for Gloria Johnson.
Gloria Johnson has continually beat her drum and cried teachers need raises, demanded more money for the education establishment to spend, and calls for expansion of Medicaid. Yet, Gloria Johnson is all sound and fury, with nothing to show for her vocal efforts.
Elaine Davis doesn’t reject the idea of Republicans and Democrats working together for the common good of the 13th House District. It is certainly campaign rhetoric that Elaine Davis answers to “masters” in Nashville.
Gloria Johnson is a radical leftist with a socialist agenda. Gloria can talk about unity, but her version of unity is that imposed upon a conquered people, not the fruit of mutual compromise and working together. Of the two candidates, Gloria Johnson certainly seems a lot more partisan than Elaine Davis.
There are hints the Johnson camp is a bit nervous this election cycle and there are Davis signs popping up in unexpected places throughout the 13th District. It might just come down to whether the people of the 13th House District want a representative who is less of an ideologue and more of a doer than a talker.