|By Jim Balloch, The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Three candidates in the
The ultimate extent to which such public disclosures can affect a candidate's chances depends heavily on how and why the debts came about and on how the candidate explains it to voters, according to two political science professors.
The candidates -- all lawyers -- are
Williams' and Lay's opponents say they have not and will not make the liens an issue. Pridemore, who has a judgment for an old credit card debt, is running unopposed in the primary but will face incumbent
Williams voluntarily disclosed liens against him and answered questions about them when he met with the
"When things like these come out in the course of a campaign, it can make the average voter think, 'Gee, I pay my taxes, and this person running for a position of trust does not pay,' " said
Experts said honesty tends to be the best policy.
"The more information about it that (the candidates themselves) put out there, the better off they will be," said
Bullock said a popular incumbent is less likely to be damaged by such a disclosure than a challenger or a seeker of an open seat. Briley said in any case, voter apathy and low turnout can reduce the impact of such disclosures.
Williams is in a three-way primary race with
Williams and Lay say they have not been questioned about the liens by prospective voters.
"But I have had some people come up to me and say, 'Let me tell you my
Williams said he'll answer questions if asked.
"It's all been in the newspaper, on TV and Facebook, but nobody has asked me about it," he said. "If anybody does, I am ready, willing and able to respond."
Lay's primary opponent is