NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Pioneering a new method of political discourse, The Epoch Times hosted a debate among three candidates in Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District Republican primary at Landmark Auditorium in Nashville on July 12.
Hosted by the Nashville Republican Women, the Nashville Young Republicans, and the Williamson County Young Republicans, the forum featured questions asked by a panel of experts covering election integrity, economics, health care, education, foreign policy, and immigration.
Five candidates were invited to participate. Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles, West Point graduate and U.S. Army combat veteran Jeff Beierlein, and former state senate legislative aide Tres Wittum took the stage.
Attorney and former Tennessee National Guard joint staff director Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead committed to appear before canceling. Former Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell declined and attended a Washington D.C. Chamber of Commerce fundraiser for her campaign.
The seat is currently occupied by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), who has represented the district since 2003 but announced in February that he would not seek reelection.
Democrats have held the 5th District congressional seat since 1875, but redistricting announced in February split Davidson County through downtown Nashville, shifting portions of the former 5th District to the mostly rural and historically Republican 6th District and 7th District.
When the new congressional maps were approved in February, Cooper announced he would not seek another term.
The district is rated as solid Republican by the Cook Political Report, safe Republican by Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and likely Republican by Inside Elections.
Because of the historic implications that could lead to a Republican winning the 5th Congressional District seat for the first time since Ulysses S. Grant was president, the GOP primary is an ideal race for The Epoch Times’ new method of political debate.
Moderator Roger Simon, who is editor-at-large and a columnist for The Epoch Times, suggested the idea for a new kind of debate when his wife, Nashville Republican Women First Vice President Sheryl Longin, said that “biased reporters” should be replaced by subject matter experts to ask the questions.