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Winton, Bricken vie for House seat
Mike Winton seated.jpg
Mike Winton
Rush Bricken.jpg
Rush Bricken

Tullahoma residents Mike Winton and Rush Bricken are fighting for an open seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives that’s been held by Judd Matheny for the past 16 years.


The 47th District seat serves about one-third of Warren County and all of Coffee County.


In a political forum held earlier this month conducted by Southern Standard and WCPI, the two candidates discussed their views oN healthcare and the contentious issue of whether Tennessee should expand Medicaid.


“The real truth is $5.3 billion that you already pay of your tax money that has already been collected, already been sent, is going to other states,” said Winton, a Democrat. “It’s not coming to Tennessee to address any of our problems with healthcare. None of it is coming to address the opioid problem that we have. Why would we ever turn that money away? My grandfather was a farmer and if we get a subsidy because soybeans are down should we turn that money away? No, it’s federal money.”


As a 45-year banker, Bricken says he doesn’t want to reject expanding Medicaid if it makes financial sense, but he’s not sure that will fix the healthcare problem.


“I am a numbers guy and I am a financial guy,” said Bricken, a Republican. “I certainly don’t want to see Tennessee walking away from money, but I certainly understand the concerns with federal regulations, strains, and costs. On the rural hospitals closing, all third-party payers have reduced hospital patient days. If you have a heart attack, you’re lucky to stay in there for 24 hours so it’s the third-party payers from Blue Cross and Medicare who have decided how many patient days to give the hospitals so that’s why most rural hospitals are suffering is because of lack of patient days.”


Bricken talked about his 22 years on the Coffee County Commission, coaching his four children when they were growing up, and time he currently spends teaching Bible class on Wednesday nights.


“I share all this because I want you to know my work ethic and my dedication to community service,” said Bricken. “I do believe in good government and I fully support public education and we could never pay teachers enough. I want to support our local law enforcement officials. I am open to TennCare and Medicaid expansion but it can’t come with federal restraints and costs attached that will take money away from education and other working programs in our state.”


Winton said he learned from his grandfather that it’s never wrong to do the right thing. He says if he’s elected, he will concentrate on helping teachers better educate students and on helping Tennessee’s healthcare system so our rural hospitals aren’t forced to close.


“Partisan politics are really just tearing us apart and we need to be able to sit down and discuss the issues,” said Winton. “If we realize, in the true facts, it’s going to be good for Tennessee then what’s wrong with doing it? If we expand Medicaid in Tennessee, our lives are going to get better and we’re not going to lose 11 hospitals going forward. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing a hospital, losing a hospital in McMinnville. What would it do to you folks? What would it do in Manchester and in Tullahoma and those are the hospitals at risk and that’s why I want to do the right thing.”


Early voting begins today at Warren County Administrative Offices. Warren County residents in the western part of the county, which includes Westwood, Morrison, Viola, and those areas, vote in the 47th District. The remainder of the county votes in the 43rd District.