The Iowa Caucus impact on Tennessee's primary

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Knoxville (WVLT) -- If you want to help choose our next president, you've got until Monday to register to vote.

Thursday’s Iowa caucuses were the start of the process that separates the “pretenders” from “contenders.”

Tennessee will be one of the smaller state's casting ballots in next month's Super Tuesday primary.

Knox County experts are predicting a record turnout, a lots more than the 51,000 who voted when Al Gore first ran for president 20 years ago.

This time around, there is another Tennessean making a run.

“This is not the time to elect a president who needs training wheels when it comes to foreign relations and international events,” said Fred Thompson, a presidential candidate and former senator from Tennessee.

Three months ago, lots of Tennesseans might have figured it was Fred Thompson's time, but if he's a weak third or fourth in Iowa, his campaign could be in trouble.

“Fred is alive until South Carolina, if he does poorly in South Carolina, I don't know where else he goes,” said Lloyd Daugherty of the Tennessee Conservative Union.

The other side of the political spectrum agrees.

“I don't believe by February 5th that he will still be a viable candidate on the Republican side,” said Don Daugherty of the Knox County Democratic Party.

Knox County Elections Administrator Greg MacKay expects both parties will still be fighting come February 5th, but even if not, they expect record voter turnout.

Experts also thing citizens will keep a close eye on the Knox County primary.

The reason is simple when you add up term-limits violation, a lawsuit, open meetings violations to appoint replacements and a court-ordered do-over.

“The stuff that's going on with county Commission really has made a black mark on Knox County and I want to try to fix that,” said Don Samples, a county voter.

Samples attitude probably explains why Knox County voters will have to choose from among 73 candidates vying for Sheriff, Clerk, Register of Deeds, Trustee, Property Assessor, Law Director, eight vacated commission seats and five school board seats.

There will be ten places where residents can vote early, but there are some rules.

“You cannot cross over,” said MacKay. “You cannot vote for a candidate of one primary for President and go over here and vote for a candidate of another party for Commission.”

That should keep away the would be ticket-splitters.

“There's a lot of people only concerned about the Presidential race,” said Lloyd Daugherty.

The head of Tennessee's Conservative Union thinks those single issue folks could help local candidates who would otherwise suffer blow back from the commission fiasco.

“If a lot of those folks go to the polls, name recognition is what counts,” said Lloyd Daugherty.

Meanwhile, some voters glad they are still four and a half weeks from choosing.

“I'll know the candidates and I'll just know more about everything and feel better about it,” said county voter Janice Walsh.

“Depending on what day you ask me, is what way I'm going with it,” said Samples.

Whether the presidency or something else pushes us to the polls, we won't get many, if any visits from the candidates.

The reason is because Republicans figure they can’t beat Thompson on his home turf and the Democrats, feel there are too many bigger battlegrounds that vote earlier or the same day.

Early voting starts in less than two weeks on the 16th.

Polling sites, candidate info and sample ballots are all available, or soon will be.

You can find out more by clicking on the Hot Key.

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