Local man campaigns for 4th District Senate seat

Published 8:51 am Monday, May 9, 2016

Contributed Photo  Neal Kerney is running for State Senate to represent the 4th District, filling the seat which Ron Ramsey currently occupies.

Contributed Photo
Neal Kerney is running for State Senate to represent the 4th District, filling the seat which Ron Ramsey currently occupies.

Campaigning on the Republican Party ticket for the 4th District State Senate seat, northeast Tennessee native Major Neal Kerney’s hopes to implement what he calls “a new generation of conservative leadership.”

Based on polls from Carter, Washington and Sullivan Counties in the Republican Preference Primary, he said this is what people want and need.

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“Truly there is an anti-establishment movement taking place here at home like there is throughout the rest of the country,” Kerney said.

He said an average of 68 percent of voters between the three counties which comprise the 4th District voted for Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, showing that voters want to rid state Senate of problems caused by “establishment” candidates.

“I interpret the voters’ definition of anti-establishment as a candidate that has never held public office before, and is one that does not allow himself or herself to be beholden to the elite class and special interest that definitely exist in Washington D.C, and to some extent at the state level-Nashville,” Kerney explained.

He said a candidate that he believes will resonate with voters in the current political climate is one who understands this movement and is willing to answer to the constituents whom elected him or her. In this way, he believes citizens will be able to have a voice in the passage of policy.

“I believe the good Lord gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason,” Kerney said. “This is to listen more than to talk. With this mindset and attitude by myself, the candidate, I want to let this be refreshing to the citizens and let them know this is what I consider the anti-establishment.”

Though he has never held public office, he said his 21 years of  experience serving in the United States Army and Tennessee National Guard and his experience in Afghanistan were unforgettable. He said he considers the fact he has not held office a “badge of honor” at this point in time.

“Anyone that follows current events could honestly say that our current political landscape across this great country of ours is in a sad state of affairs,” Kerney said.

He commended the state government for its low debt, fiscal responsibility and conservative values defended by Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey.

Kerney ran for State Representative in 1996 and in 2004, and he has helped other candidates in their campaigns. For seven years, he served on the Sullivan County Republican Party Executive Committee, until he resigned from it to run for State Senate this year.

He is the son of Phyllis and the late Tom Kerney, and he is a fourth generation resident of Sullivan County. His wife, Sandra Butler Kerney is a fifth generation resident of Johnson County, and the two own property and pay taxes in both counties. In addition, he has served as the Company Commander of the National Guard Armory in Stoney Creek.

Formerly the owner of two small businesses in manufacturing and construction, Kerney currently works with an independent service provider for Fed Ex.

When he returned from service in Afghanistan in 2008, he was hired by the CEO and President of Alpha Natural Resources and worked in both strip and surface mining. In this time, he served on the company’s government affairs team. He said in 2012, the current U.S. President started ”winning his war on coal,” and that Kerney along with thousands of others throughout southern and central Appalachia were sacrificed in the process.

“I know what it is like to fight month after month just to come up with enough money to meet the mortgage,” he said.

Kerney believes the solution to unemployment is better education and the willingness to work. He said he supports Governor Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 as well as tuition assistance at community colleges.

“This creates more opportunity for our citizens to be increasingly competitive in a highly technical work environment,” he said.

He noted a new Healthcare Task Force formed by House Speaker Beth Harwell with Haslam’s endorsement, which he said will work towards developing a list of options to make TennCare more efficient and accessible.

Kerney said he believes the drug abuse plaguing households and youth in the area could be deterred if the country would be more willing to “secure its borders from illegals and from drug trafficking crossing.”

He said he voted for Trump in the Primary election because he stands the best chance at defeating Hillary Clinton.

“I feel as a Republican that a lot of my conservatism falls in line with more of Ted Cruz,” Kerney said. “However, once again, in my humble opinion, he could not beat Hillary Clinton in November.”

Kerney hopes his campaign will give the voice back to the voters in the 4th district at the state level.

“At 45 years old, I am not going to sit on the sidelines and not start fighting back,” Kerney said. “I am going to do my part on the state level, and I humbly ask the voters of the 4th State Senate District to get behind me.”

For more information or to contact Kerney, visit his page on Facebook called Neal Kerney  for State Senate or send an email to nealkerney@gmail.com.