State Rep. Joe Carr / Aaron Thompson / File / Gannett Tennessee
By Scott Broden, Gannett Tennessee
State Rep. Joe Carr confirmed Tuesday he's giving up his seat in the Tennessee General Assembly as part of his earlier decision to run for Congress.
"Tennessee election law precludes me from being on two different ballots during the same election cycle," said Carr, a Republican from the Lascassas community northeast of Murfreesboro. "So the answer is, 'No I will not seek re-election as a state representative.' Unfortunately, too many people who seek higher political office only do so from the comfort of their currently held political position of power.
"I hope there comes a time in the not too distant future when those who seek public service through the election process do so without the safety net of keeping their current political title."
Carr, who has been up for re-election every two years since winning his 48th District seat in 2008, is seeking the 4th Congressional District seat held by U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a Republican from South Pittsburg.
State Sen. Jim Tracy, a Republican from Shelbyville, is also running for the congressional seat. Tracy won his first four-year term in 2004. He also ran for Congress in 2010, coming in third in the GOP primary to U.S. Rep. Diane Black of Gallatin and just behind runner-up Lou Ann Zelenik, a former chairwoman of the Rutherford County Republican Party.
Tracy, unlike Carr, is in a Tennessee Senate seat not up for election in 2014.
"I was elected last year in 2012," Tracy said. "I am elected to serve District 14 in the Senate, and I'm elected to a four-year term."
Carr, Tracy and DesJarlais will be competing for the GOP nomination for the congressional seat.
Carr confirmed he was not seeking re-election to the Tennessee General Assembly a couple of days after Rutherford County Commissioner Adam Coggin announced candidacy for the 48th District seat.
Carr said that he talked to Coggin and two others about their interest in succeeding him as a GOP lawmaker in Nashville.
"It will be a contested primary," Carr said. "I hope the House 48th District is a referendum on my job performance and the way I conducted myself."
Carr noted that he's been a fighter advocating for laws while standing up to even members of his own party.
He takes pride in authoring and sponsoring every major piece of illegal immigration legislation in the state, including Tennessee's E-Verify Law, the Systematic Alien Verification Entitlement act, the No Sanctuary Cities Law and the Identity Theft for Employment Act.
These laws that Carr said he spent hundreds of hours crafting have passed step by step while being constitutionally sound to stand up in court, he said.
He has also advocated for the phasing out of the inheritance and gift tax.
"Does the district like to have someone who is a fighter and is willing to stand up for them?" said Carr, who also takes pride in helping his alma mater Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro to obtain $132 million mostly from the state to construct a science building with an overall cost of $147 million. "I hope it's an election on a referendum on not just on what I have gotten it done but on the way I have gotten it done. I would like to see that, but I'm only one voter in the 48th.
"Does the district want a fighter like I've tried to be for them or do they want somebody who is more of a compromiser?" Carr asked. "I am interested to see if the voters of the 48th are going to put in somebody who is committed to being that vocal principled fighter or do they want somebody who is more of a get along, go along type of legislator? That's the choice. I am interested in seeing what choice they make, but I will not be on the ballot as a state representative."
The money for the science building is mixing with $15 million that Carr's predecessor, John Hood, pursued to get the project started. MTSU is seeking around $18 million as part of a local match toward the project, including $1 million from the Murfreesboro City Council.
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