Our long-distance coverage of the dueling love notes written by kin of both candidates in the race for city judge in Red Bank, Tenn., has not gone unnoticed down in the Volunteer State.

The challenger, Johnny Houston, e-mailed us (click image above to enlarge) last night to explain the role of the fawning missives, which have appeared in recent days in the opinion pages of the Daily Chattanoogan. Houston’s mother and wife have shamlessly weighed in, as have the sister and parents of the incumbent, Judge Gary Disheroon, to tell voters why their boys deserve the judgeship.

“We appreciate your interest in our election skirmish down here,” Houston writes. “Unlike other areas of the country, people down south want to make sure a candidate’s family likes them before wasting a vote. I once heard a voter say (in reference to ANOTHER candidate), ‘If his momma and daddy don’t like him, then why should I?’ “

He adds:

These letters from our respective relatives are nothing more than proof to the voters that we are at least favored in our own families. After all, we are both attorneys.

Well, we’ve got to hand it to Houston. Like the relatives of each candidate, he says not a disparaging word about the other side. Instead, he’s simply charming, with that casual use of “momma and daddy” and the self-deprecating lawyer bit that applies to both Disheroon and himself.

And in terms of strategy, Houston’s e-mail to redbankgreen is brilliant. With the election tomorrow night, Disheroon, who’s been playing catch-up for a week in the letters department, barely has time to match Houston him with his own e-mail to us. This could be decisive.

We’ll follow this race right to the end. If nothing else, it should be good practice for our coverage of the charm-off expected this fall between mayoral candidates Pasquale Menna and John Curley, right here in Red Bank, N.J.

By the way: Immediate relatives of Curley and Menna are welcome—no, make that strongly encouraged—to write us here at redbankgreen. Don’t be shy; this is democracy at work!