Joe Birch's candidate profile: Roy Herron - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Joe Birch's candidate profile: Roy Herron

Roy Herron Roy Herron

By Joe Birch - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A central battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives this election season is playing out right here in the Mid-South, in Tennessee's 8th Congressional District.

The district stretches from Frayser and Raleigh up to Kentucky, and all the way over to Nashville, Clarksville and Middle Tennessee.  The seat opened up when Congressman John Tanner announced his retirement last year.

Now, a shotgun toting, Bible quoting veteran Tennessee state senator from Dresden, Roy Herron, is asking 8th District voters for a promotion to Congress.

Herron recently went into preacher-mode while speaking to an audience of Memphis ministers.

"I'm a sinner and I fall short, but I know this: I know where the 8th Congressional District is," he said.

Whether in the pulpit or cousin-talking with coffee drinkers, Herron is a man on a mission, asking the people of the 8th District to have faith that he can be a true conservative and a democrat at the same time.

"I'll be about cutting spending and restoring some fiscal sanity to that budget," he said. "They've gone out of control. They've lost their minds. They're spending this nation into oblivion and they're risking the future of our children and grandchildren."


The 57-year-old lawyer was elected to the Tennessee House in 1986, assuming the seat Ned McWherter vacated to become Governor. Herron was elected to Tennessee's State Senate in 1996, and has amassed conservative credentials:

"I believe a citizen ought to be able to defend herself or himself," he said.

This month, the National Rifle Association gave Herron its prized endorsement, after the state senator twice voted to override the Gov. Bredesen's veto of the guns-in-bars bill. Herron also voted to allow gun permit holders to carry weapons in Tennessee state parks:

"I was raised in the Methodist church and in scouting," he said. "I'm an Eagle Scout. My three sons are Eagle Scouts. If you want to know what my views and my values are, you can find them in the principles of scouting and in the Bible."

Herron's opponents say he'll vote with liberal leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but he disagrees.

"I'm not going to vote for Nancy Pelosi, and I'm not going to vote for the guy from Ohio, either," he said.

Herron has paid a price for his independence.  The Democratic Party pulled its funding on Herron's behalf.  Meanwhile, the GOP, which covets the red leaning 8th District seat, has gone on the attack.  One commercial criticizes Herron's vote to raise salaries for legislators.

"When I went to the legislature, it paid $12,500 a year and I did vote to increase the salary," he said. "At the same time, publicly I committed I was not going to take any of that pay increase. I haven't."

Herron says he voted to increase legislative pay and pensions so working people, not just the rich, could serve.  Herron has released his tax returns for the last four years that indicate he's given away thousands to scholarships, charities and churches.

As he tries to convert the 8th District's conservative voters to his side, he's demanding his opponent, Stephen Fincher, do the same.

"My opponent will not reveal his tax returns," Herron said. "He's refused."

Thursday on Action News 5 at 6pm, Joe Birch will profile the campaign finance and disclosure fight in Tennessee's 8th District.

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