Tennessee Republicans will begin weighing in Wednesday on an unsettled GOP presidential primary, a contest here that will test the momentum of Rick Santorum against the topsy-turvy campaign of Mitt Romney and stalled effort of Newt Gingrich.
Early voting in Nashville for Tennessee’s March 6 Super Tuesday Republican primary begins Wednesday, Feb. 15, at the Davidson County Election Commission office inside the Metro Office Building on Second Avenue.
Polls are open Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Times and dates vary until early voting concludes on Feb. 28.
Five satellite early voting sites are slated to operate during the final week of early voting, Feb. 23 through Feb. 28. They are: Bordeaux Library, Edmondson Pike Library, Green Hills Library, Hermitage Library and the Madison Library.
In Davidson County’s Democratic primary, the focus is on down-ballot judicial races.
General Sessions Judge Mike Jameson, a former Metro councilman appointed to the bench in the fall, is trying to fend off challenges from two attorneys, Rachel Bell and Jack Byrd.
Jameson announced Tuesday he has earned the endorsement of the Central Labor Council of Middle Tennessee. He also has the support of the SEIU Local 205 and the Nashville Neighborhood Defense Fund, among others.
Meanwhile, attorneys Stanley Kweller and Phillip Robinson are vying for the Davidson County Circuit Court judgeship previously held by Barbara Haynes, who retired in November.
At issue in Tennessee’s presidential sweepstakes is whether Santorum can build off recent victories in Colorado and Minnesota — as well as a non-binding Missouri win — and capitalize on the Tea Party and evangelical-rich South.
Santorum, the former Pennsylvania U.S. senator, has surged in national polls since his trio of victories. A New York Times/CBS News poll released Tuesday showed 30 percent of Republican primary voters nationwide support Santorum, while 27 percent back Romney.
A recent poll suggests Santorum could be the frontrunner in the Volunteer State. A Feb. 9 poll of likely Tennessee Republican primary voters found 34 percent of respondents favor Santorum; 27 percent support Romney; 16 percent, Gingrich; and 13 percent, Ron Paul.
On Tuesday, the Romney campaign announced Gov. Bill Haslam would begin serving as Romney’s Tennessee campaign chairman.
“He has the experience to lead, and this country needs a true leader,” Haslam said in a statement.
Other March 6 Super Tuesday primaries or caucuses are set for the following states: Georgia, Alaska, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Vermont and Virginia.
Arizona and Michigan are holding Republican primaries on Feb. 28. The state of Washington has its caucus on March 3.