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Previewing the Tennessee House Primaries Previewing the Tennessee House Primaries

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Previewing the Tennessee House Primaries

In the state's other notable primary, freshman GOP Rep. Diane Black faces a repeat challenge from Lou Ann Zelenik, the former Rutherford County Republican chair and one of the leading opponents of the construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro, a hot local issue. Zelenik argues that Black is insufficiently opposed to the mosque, but, like Fleischmann, Black recognized her danger early and spent over $2.3 million on her campaign through July 13, the pre-primary reporting deadline. Zelenik's spending pales in comparison, but she does have the help of two well-financed outside groups: Citizens 4 Ethics in Government and the Congressional Elections PAC, both of which were financed by Zelenik's former fundraising chair, an investor named Andrew Miller. Black's incumbency and money gives her an advantage, but Zelenik and the outside groups are airing sharp TV ads against her, and Black also came out of the 2010 primary with something less than a mandate of support with the base: She beat Zelenik with 31 percent, and by just a few hundred votes, in a more crowded 2010 field. This year, the one-on-one matchup created greater danger for Black, triggering her big pre-primary spending.

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