Ballot to Bullet

Did a Tennessee G.O.P. candidate kill his rival?

By all accounts, Tommy Burks was a shoo-in for re-election to the Tennessee state senate. The five-term Democrat's law-and-order views resonated with the folks of rural Putnam County along with his distinctive country twang. Early last week, though, Burks was silenced, fatally shot in the head on his hog farm while readying his pumpkin patch for an annual visit from schoolchildren. After a few days' search and a night of questioning, police announced an arrest and a murder charge. The suspect: Byron Looper, the local tax assessor--and more important, Burks' opponent in the upcoming election.

Looper was a perennial also-ran in...

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