So how do you fend off an election challenge from a candidate like Basil Marceaux, whose last political venture and unconventional views on issues such as "gold fringe" flags and illegal police traffic stops left national comedians, radio talk shows and Internet bloggers marveling?
For state Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, who faces Marceaux in the Aug. 2 Republican primary for House District 27, the answer is very, very diplomatically.
"His positions, whether you agree or disagree, you can't fault his enthusiasm in discussing his issues or promoting them," said Floyd, who is seeking a third term. "I think we're going to be all right in this race, especially the primary."
But, Floyd quickly added, "you never take any opponent for granted."
Political observers in Chattanooga and the state capitol say Floyd is a shoo-in. The winner of GOP primary will face Democrat Frank Eaton in the Nov. 6 general election.
Marceaux, a perennial candidate for state and federal office, became a hit on the Internet during Tennessee's 2010 gubernatorial primary. His rise to fame occurred after a video in which he spoke about his views, produced and aired by Nashville television station WSMV, went viral on YouTube.
"I'd like to recall all permits and registration for guns. Everyone carry guns," Marceaux said in his segment. "If you kill someone, no, you get murdered or you go to jail."
Some bloggers argued he sounded drunk, but Marceaux said, no, he's just missing most of his teeth which sometimes makes it hard to understand him. The video aired on MSNBC, "The Colbert Report" and "The Soup." He later appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live."
But he garnered only about half of a percent in the GOP gubernatorial primary.
Now Marceaux's back. But his campaign on Monday took yet another detour through Hamilton County Criminal Court, where Judge Rebecca Stern dismissed Marceaux's efforts to block his trial for a January traffic violation. He contends his trial is unconstitutional.
Marceaux claims that, under the 1865 Freedmen's Bureau Act, which was intended to help former slaves, his status as a former U.S. Marine gives him higher authority than a judge.
"I'm taking the opportunity to show that all of this is unlawful," he said Monday after the hearing.
Marceaux has been slapped with numerous traffic violations in the past.
His last appearance before Stern in the current case, which involves charges for failing to maintain lanes and have proof of insurance, resulted in a 10-day jail stint for contempt after Marceaux told the judge that she was "out of order." Marceaux also told her that, when he wins an election, the court "is going down."
He said Monday that, besides his crusades over traffic stops, he wants to "fight for the veterans."
He said he also intends to block the flying of Tennessee and American flags featuring "gold fringe," arguing that the fringe means martial law has been declared and so it's illegal.
Floyd, meanwhile, said he is focused on "economic expansion and jobs. That's a top one for all of us."
He also said he supports efforts to catapult Tennessee into the top ranks nationwide in terms of K-12 education.
Another Floyd concern is the federal Affordable Care Act and its impact on state finances and TennCare, the state's version of Medicaid.
"I just can't make myself like the idea of expanding Medicaid the way they want to expand it," Floyd said. "Somebody's going to have to show me this is the right decision."
In the meantime, Floyd is a little cautious on the gold-fringe flag matter.
"I'm not that familiar with the exact reason why the gold fringes are on the flag," he said. "I think the goal is more of a decorative part of the flag. It's never been legislatively mandated."
But, Floyd noted, "Basil is far more blessed as a flag expert than I am."
Contact staff writer Andy Sher at 615-255-0550 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact staff writer Kate Harrison at email@example.com or 423-757-6673.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...
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