The farmer and gospel singer who came to symbolize the hopeful crop of Republican 2010 House recruits won his primary with a strong showing in Tennessee Thursday.
Stephen Fincher, who clinched the GOP nod in the race for retiring Rep. John Tanner's (D-Tenn.) seat, was one of the most highly-touted recruits of the National Republican Congressional Committee. He defeated Dr. Ron Kirkland and Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn with 51 percent of the vote. The Associated Press declared him the winner.
Tanner, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, announced in December 2009 he planned to retire at the end of his term.
Fincher entered the race to great acclaim but he faced a steady drip of bad press close to the primary.
There were reports he received some $2.5 million in federal farm subsidies even as he attacked government spending.
His campaign misspelled Tennessee in a mailer and used virtually the same TV ad as a candidate for Alabama agriculture commissioner. Moreover, the Nashville Post discovered he voted in three Democratic primaries in the last eight years.
Meanwhile, Kirkland was also hit for donating to Democrats, including Tanner, and Flinn was attacked for owning a Memphis hip-hop station. More than $5 million was spent on TV advertising by the candidates and outside groups making it the costliest primary this cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, making it the most expensive House primary this cycle.
Fincher will face state Sen. Roy Herron (D), who won the Democratic nomination.