April 22, 2022 12:00pm

Election Predictions: Hullander for mayor; Wamp for district attorney

Campaigns heating up in finals days of Hamilton County primary season

Photo of Chris Vass
Chattanooga, TN Correspondent
 

Chattanooga area community and business leaders are fairly evenly divided among who they want as the next Hamilton County mayor, but nearly half of respondents to a Power Poll this week said they think that Chattanooga businessman Matt Hullander will win the GOP contest on May 3.

With less than two weeks to the election, 49% said they think Hullander will win, compared with 27% who predict Hamilton County Commission Chair Sabrena Smedley will win and the 24% who think Weston Wamp will win.

The 103 respondents to the poll, which includes business, political and community leaders in the Chattanooga area sampled earlier this week, also said they think in the GOP primary race for Hamilton County district attorney, Coty Wamp will best incumbent Neal Pinkston.

The monthly Power Poll poll gauges what influential business, civic, education and nonprofit leaders and elected officials are thinking. The survey is not scientific, which is especially important to remember when the polls are on elections. Results do provide insights into the opinions and beliefs of key decision-makers in the area.

The survey, conducted Monday through Thursday, was sent to 290 Power Poll members for a 36% response rate.

The results were more evenly divided when Power Pollers indicated their personal preference for the eventual GOP nominee for county mayor.

When asked: “If you are voting in the primary, who gets your vote for county mayor?”:

› 27% said Weston Wamp

› 23% said Matt Hullander

› 20 % said Sabrena Smedley

Interestingly, 20% said they are “undecided.” That provides a healthuy bit of running room for the candidates to secure a win.

Another 10% said they are voting in the Democratic primary and are voting for Matt Adams, who will face the GOP winner in August.

The campaign for the GOP mayoral nomination intensified this week as a political group supporting Wamp launched a radio and direct mail campaign against his opponents. Both Smedley and Hullander derided the attack ads; Wamp denied being involved with the campaign.

The candidates have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to pitch themselves as successor to County Mayor Jim Coppinger, who decided not to seek re-election this year after serving 11 years. Voters are being inundated with direct mail pieces and the TV and radio ads.

Early voting has been steady but certainly not overwhelming; as of Thursday afternoon, about 8,200 ballots had been cast. Voters have pulled 6,739 GOP ballots to 1,468 Democratic ballots.

Turning to the DA race, Coty Wamp was the personal choice for 43% of survey respondents.

When asked, “If you are voting in the primary, who will you vote for in the district attorney’s race?” 24% said Pinkston and 19% are “undecided.”

Another 14% are headed to the Democratic primary, in which they have one choice: local attorney and former county commissioner John Brooks.

But when asked, “Who do you think will win the GOP nomination for district attorney?” just over two-thirds — 68% — said they think Wamp will defeat Pinkston, who drew 32%.

And finally, in the biggest “no surprise” result (thankfully), 91% of Power Poll members said they are very likely to vote in this primary cycle. In response to the question: “How likely are you to vote in the 2022 Hamilton County primary election?” 1% said “somewhat likely while 4% said “not very likely” and another 4% said “not voting.” Of note: some Power Poll members do not live in Hamilton County.

And that question generated the only comments, one from Hamilton County Commissioner Steve Highlander, who said he encourages everyone to exercise “their voting privileges.” Highlander, a Republican, will face an opponent, Democrat Steve Caudle, in the August county general election for the District 9 county commission seat.

Former county commissioner Chester Bankston, who was succeeded by Highlander on the commission, also urged citizens to vote — in every election — “to maintain our free society.”

May 3 is just 11 days away. Encourage your family, friends and colleagues to vote. It’s the one loud voice we have.

Contact Chris Vass, public editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, at cvass@timesfreepress.com or cvass@powerpoll.com.

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