Gov. Bill Haslam appears to be a shoo-in for re-election this fall, but the campaign to unseat him could be colorful if nothing else.
Thursday was the deadline to file qualifying petitions for the August primary election for the governor's office, state legislative seats and Congress. Election officials were still verifying petitions at the close of business, but the field was shaping up:
• Governor: Haslam, a Knoxville Republican, has little chance of losing his bid for a second term, though a bunch of little-known candidates will do their best — or not — to unseat him.
Mark Clayton, who embarrassed the Tennessee Democratic Party two years ago when he won its U.S. Senate nomination, has filed to run for governor this time around — and could have as good a shot at carrying the Democratic flag as anyone. Clayton won the Senate primary going away in 2012, despite his participation in an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center had labeled an anti-gay hate group and other extreme views.
Attorney John Jay Hooker, a three-time Democratic candidate for governor in 1966, 1970 and 1998, will run as an independent this time. Hooker, 83, said he's running simply to make a point about the state's system of appointing rather than truly electing appeals court judges. He said the state Democratic Party is the "architect" of that system, which he's suing the state to try to overturn.
And then there's Basil Marceaux Sr., the Soddy-Daisy Republican whose sometimes loopy public statements brought a little levity (and late-night talk show attention) to the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
Former Sullivan County Mayor John McKamey also filed to run as a Democrat. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, a Republican from the same neck of the woods, took note.
"I texted the governor and told him that even though John McKamey is from Sullivan County, dot-dot-dot, I'm still going to support the governor," Ramsey said.
• Congress: Each of Tennessee's nine U.S. House members is running for re-election, as is U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who faces a Republican primary challenge from state Rep. Joe Carr. Knoxville attorney Terry Adams, a 1989 Glencliff High School graduate, has more established support than other Democratic contenders for the seat, which Alexander has held since 2003.
Meanwhile, Tom Emerson Jr., from Atoka, registered to run for Senate from the "Tea" party, which does not exist as a formal political entity. Mark Goins, the state's election coordinator, said Emerson would have until August to meet the state's rules for party recognition, which include gathering 40,000 signatures. Otherwise, Emerson will be listed on the ballot as an independent.
The congressman who's most vulnerable is U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg Republican and physician who has been hurt by revelations that he supported abortions by his first wife and dated some of his patients. His main challenger is state Sen. Jim Tracy, a Republican from Shelbyville.
• State Senate: Former Tennessee Democratic Party spokesman Brandon Puttbrese qualified to challenge a party elder, state Sen. Thelma Harper, in the Senate District 19 primary.
Puttbrese, 32, said he respects the work Harper has done since 1988. But the East Nashville resident sees "a need for some fresh blood, some fresh ideas, especially for Democrats to fight for the ideas we hold strong to, like expanding the middle class."
Sterlina Brady qualified to run as a Republican for the same seat.
• State House: As expected, three Democrats qualified to try to succeed retiring state Rep. Mike Turner in Nashville's House District 51: Carson W. "Bill" Beck, Stephen Fotopulos and Jennifer Buck Wallace.
Meanwhile, Nashville attorney John Ray Clemmons will take on longtime state Rep. Gary Odom in the District 55 Democratic primary. And state Rep. Darren Jernigan, a Democrat in District 60, will have to fend off a challenge in November from Republican Jim Gotto, the former lawmaker he unseated two years ago.