Tennessee just held its primary. Here’s a recap of the top contests.

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The Tennessee primaries were held Thursday to determine the party candidates for the governor, Congress and state seats.

A handful of ballot boxes and prosecutors were also on the ballot in some counties, as well as retaining the Supreme Court for all judges.

By voting 14 days early, turnout was 23.8% lower than in the August 2018 election, when there was an open governorship race with contested Republican and Democratic primaries. Compared to the same point in 2014, turnout was 15.4% lower.

Here’s a rundown of some of the best matches:


Democrat Jason Martin, a Nashville physician who criticized Republican administration Bill Lee’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, won his first race to challenge Lee in the fall. Martin defeated Memphis Councilman JB Smiley Jr. by a narrow margin, and Memphis community advocate Carnita Atwater finished in a distant third place. Lee ran unopposed in the GOP primary when he sought a second term, marking the first time in about three decades that a sitting governor has had no primary opponent.

Tennessee has not elected a Democrat to government office since 2006.


Earlier this year, the GOP-dominated Tennessee General Assembly split left-wing Nashville into three congressional districts with the goal of changing a seat from Democrat to Republican. Jim Cooper, the longtime Democratic representative to the US House of Representatives, announced that he would not run for re-election because he felt there was no way to win.

On Thursday, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles, of Columbia, emerged as the GOP nominee out of nine candidates in the 5th district. Among those he defeated were former state chairman Beth Harwell, of Nashville, and the retired brigadier general of the Tennessee National Guard. Gene. Kurt Winstead, of Franklin.

State Senator Heidi Campbell of Nashville was the only candidate to run in the Democratic primary.

Meanwhile, five of Tennessee’s nine congressmen ran unopposed in the primary: U.S. House Representatives Diana Harshbarger, Tim Burchett, Scott DesJarlais, John Rose and Mark Green.


Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis and Republican Rep. David Kustoff and Chuck Fleischmann faced underfunded challengers in their primary. In the 9th district, Cohen M. Latroy defeated Alexandria-Williams, with Charlotte Bergmann winning the Republican nod against Leo AwGoWhat and Brown Dudley. Kustoff defeated three primary opponents in the 8th district, Danny Ray Bridger Jr., Gary Dean Clouse and Bob Hendry, with Democrat Lynnette Williams beating Tim McDonald for their party’s nomination. In District 3, Fleischmann won his race over Sandy Casey and will face Democrat Meg Gorman in the fall.

In the Democratic 6th district primary, Randal Cooper defeated Clay Faircloth to advance and take on Rose. And in the 4th district, Wayne Steele defeated Arnold White in the Democratic primaries to challenge DesJarlais.

Republicans currently hold seven of Tennessee’s congressional seats, while Democrats occupy two.

dr. Jason Martin listens to a question during an interview in Nashville, Tennessee. Martin, a Nashville critical care physician, is one of three Democrats running for the job of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

State House

All 99 Tennessee state house seats are up for election this year in the Republican legislature. There are currently 15 free seats, the majority of which are held by Republicans. Twenty-one seats contain contested Republican primaries and nine contain contested Democratic primaries.

Some incumbent legislators lost their primary races.

Maryville Republican Rep. Bob Ramsey did not survive a challenge from the right against Bryan Richey, a Maryville insurance agent.

Republican Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, a Lancaster gospel singer and songwriter known for her state house serenades, lost to Michael Hale, a Smithville undertaker and farmer.

The openings include the seat of disgraced former House Speaker Glen Casada, who was ousted from the top spot in 2019 after a string of scandals. Former GOP representative Robin Smith resigned earlier this year after facing federal charges alleging she ran a political advice bribe scheme with Casada and his former chief of staff, neither of whom have so far been charged.


Justin Jones, a black activist known for holding rallies in the Capitol, was elected to a House seat for a Nashville district on Thursday. Jones, 26, was once temporarily banned from the Capitol after being arrested for throwing a cup of liquid at Casada. That ban has since been lifted.

In the Senate, 17 of 33 seats are on the ballot, four with contested GOP primaries and two with contested Democratic races.

High Council

All five Tennessee Supreme Court justices were retained. Jeff Bivins, Sarah Campbell, Holly Kirby, Sharon Lee and Roger Page were up for an eight-year retention election, meaning voters simply decided whether they wanted to keep their seat. Rejections are extremely rare.

Other important races

Tennessee’s most populous county, Shelby, had a number of important races.

County Mayor Lee Harris was challenged by Memphis City Councilor Worth Morgan. Harris, a black Democrat, was seeking his second four-year term. Morgan, a white Republican, has been on the board since 2016.

Republican incumbent and longtime Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich, who has held the position since 2011, faced Democratic civil rights attorney, law professor and former district commissioner Steve Mulroy.


With all the district districts reporting results Friday, Mulroy defeated Weirich in the district attorney’s race, and Harris defeated Morgan in the mayoral race.

Mulroy and Weirich clashed in debates, and the issue of prosecuting abortion under the state’s pending “trigger law” became an issue. The law would essentially ban all abortions statewide and make it a felony to perform the procedure.

Mulroy said he would make prosecution of those who perform abortions an “extremely low” priority. Weirich has not said outright whether or not she will prosecute doctors who perform abortions, instead saying that doing so would violate the Tennessee Code that prohibits prosecutors from “making a broad and hypothetical statement without an actual charge.” or case”.

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