The two are vying in the August Republican primary for Tennessee's 3rd House District seat being vacated by Rep. Timothy Hill, who’s seeking the 1st Congressional District seat.
No Democrat is seeking the office, so the primary winner will be unopposed in the November general election.
The district includes parts of Sullivan and Carter counties and all of Johnson County.
Both Kerney and Campbell list Mountain City as their home, but Kerney is formerly of Colonial Heights and is a member of Colonial Heights Baptist Church.
Kerney, 49, is a lieutenant colonel in the Tennessee National Guard. He has served in Afghanistan. He is also a former small business owner, general residential contractor and co-owner of a manufacturing construction company.
His campaign theme is “conservative leadership for serious times.” This is his fourth attempt at seeking elected office.
“What I’m trying to focus on is to help families and small business recover from the damage of the coronavirus,” Kerney said. “I’m a big advocate of bringing back manufacturing jobs to Upper East Tennessee.”
Kerney said he is pro-life, pro-Second Amendment and will support President Trump.
Campbell, 36, held the 3rd House District seat from 2011-2012.
Campbell said he is pro-life, pro-Second Amendment and has the support of the Tennessee Firearms Association and endorsements from state Sen. Jon Lundberg and House Majority Leader William Lamberth.
“I have a history of doing the best to listen to the people of Northeast Tennessee and carrying their message back to Nashville,” Campbell said. “Beyond that, I don’t have a specific agenda, personally.”
Campbell said some want better public access points to Watauga and South Holston lakes and also want state highways in the district to be resurfaced.
Campbell has been a radio talk show host and is a property manager and first responder.
When asked why he left the legislature after one term, Campbell said that was “multi-factorial.”
“A large part of the reason was I did not want to depend on the ballot for income,” he explained. “I went back and got a second college degree. It’s an associate’s degree in health sciences.”
Kerney responded: “I think (Campbell’s) greatest liability in this race is when he abruptly left the office after serving one term. A lot of Johnson Countians haven’t forgot that. I think that’s working to my favor.”
Early voting for the August primary begins July 17.