Fincher Poll Shows GOP Primary Lead

July 7, 2010

Farmer and gospel singer Stephen Fincher (R) leads a competitive GOP primary even after being vastly outspent on TV, according to a new survey conducted for Fincher’s campaign.

The survey, conducted by The Tarrance Group, shows Fincher leading with 32% of the vote. That proportion bests physician Ron Kirkland (R), who clocks in at 23%, and Shelby Co. Commis. George Flinn (R), who earns 21%. Still, 22% of voters remain undecided.

Fincher’s 9-point lead shows a far tighter race than an earlier survey [pdf] conducted for his campaign. In the April 5-6 survey, Fincher led with 40%, compared with 17% for Kirkland and 7% for Flinn.

Fincher is a favorite of the national GOP, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the GOP’s recruiting chairman, in particular. Fincher has been named a “Young Gun,” the top level of the NRCC’s recruiting ladder, and he’s received contributions from several top members of the GOP Conference.

But Kirkland and Flinn haven’t shown any interest in bowing to the national party’s wishes. Both Kirkland and Flinn have personal money to spend on the race, and both have outspent Fincher on TV ads so far. Fincher has spent $220K on ads, according to a source close to his campaign. Kirkland, Flinn and an independent expenditure organization run by Kirkland’s brother have dumped a combined $1.4M into ad buys.

“We agree with the Fincher campaign poll — Stephen Fincher is losing ground on a daily basis. It confirms what we hear everyday in Tennessee: The more Republicans find out about Democrat Stephen Fincher and his hypocrisy, the less they like him,” said Brent Leatherwood, Kirkland’s campaign manager. “We have a month to go and Mr. Fincher confirms his ship is sinking. We appreciate him getting that message out.”

National GOPers are not certain whether Fincher would win, but party strategists helped prop up his candidacy in an effort to send a signal that early recruits could count on the national party. The NRCC convinced Fincher to jump into the race while Rep. John Tanner (D) was still running. Tanner dropped out shortly after Fincher got in the race.

Meanwhile, Kirkland on Wednesday released a new ad pledging to reduce government spending by 10%. He assailed Flinn for spending increases during Flinn’s tenure on the Shelby Co. board and attacked Fincher for accepting government farm subsidies.

Fincher has attacked Kirkland for contributing to Dems when he headed the American Medical Group Association, while Kirkland pointed to voting records that showed Fincher has recently voted in Dem primaries.

The winner of the Aug. 5 primary will face off against state Sen. Roy Herron (D) in the general election.

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