Wait, Thursday primaries?

Welcome to the Wednesday, August 3, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. A look at Tennessee’s Aug. 4 primaries
  2. We’ve got Aug. 2 election results!  
  3. Apply to join our Volunteer Fellows Program!

A look at Tennessee’s Aug. 4 primaries  

Most of our team was up late last night covering statewide primaries. But what you might not know is that we’re also preparing for primaries tomorrow—in Tennessee. 

Most states hold their primaries—and general elections—on Tuesdays. Not so for Tennessee, which is holding its primaries tomorrow, on a Thursday (Hawaii is taking a similarly unconventional approach and holding its primaries on Aug. 13—a Saturday!). Why does Tennessee hold its primaries on Thursday? The answer is rooted in the state Constitution. Article VII states that elections be held on the first Thursday in August for “judicial and other civil officers.” As to why the delegates to the constitutional convention from the then-Southwest Territory (as Tennessee was known) chose Thursday—well, nobody knows for sure.  

Let’s take a look at what’s on the ballot in Tennessee, including local ballot measures and school board races.

Congressional primaries 

Tennessee is one of 15 states that does not have a U.S. Senate seat up for election this year. But like every state in 2022, all of Tennessee’s U.S. House districts are up for election. Tennessee was apportioned nine districts, the same as after the 2010 census. Republicans have a 7-2 majority in the state’s U.S. House delegation.

Thirty-six candidates filed to run for the nine districts, including 13 Democrats and 23 Republicans. That’s four candidates per district, less than the five candidates per district in 2020 and the 5.4 in 2018. 

The 5th is the only open district after Rep. Jim Cooper (D) did not run for re-election. 

There are eight contested primaries this year — four Democratic and four Republican. That was the same number as in 2020 and five fewer than in 2018, when there were 13 contested primaries. There were 10 contested primaries in 2016, 11 in 2014, and 10 in 2012.

State primaries

Tennessee is holding elections for governor, 17 districts in the state Senate, and all 99 state House districts. 

In the Republican gubernatorial primary, incumbent Gov. Bill Lee (R) is running unopposed. Lee was first elected in 2018. Three candidates—Carnita Atwater, Jason Martin, and JB Smiley Jr.—are running in the Democratic primary. Tennessee’s last Democratic governor was Phil Bredesen, who served from 2003 to 2011. 

Voters will decide Republican and Democratic primaries for 17 districts in the state Senate. Republicans control the state Senate 27-6. Voters will also decide primaries for all 99 districts in the state House, which Republicans hold 72-24. Across both chambers, 36 primaries are contested—a 5% decrease compared to 2020. Of the 36 contested primaries, 11 are for Democrats and 25 are for Republicans. For Democrats, this is down from 14 in 2020, a 21% decrease. For Republicans, the number increased 4% from 24 in 2020. Fifteen contested primaries feature an incumbent, representing 15% of all incumbents who filed for re-election. This is also the lowest rate of incumbents in contested primaries compared to the preceding four election cycles.

Ballot measures

Nashville and Memphis will decide ballot measures on Aug. 4. In Nashville, voters will decide on four charter amendments related to amending the charter, police officer qualifications, the Metro Health Department, and the city transportation department. In Memphis, voters will decide on one charter amendment related to local term limits.

School board

We’re covering school board general elections in seven districts in Tennessee on Aug. 4, including elections in Shelby County Schools and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. Subscribe to Hall Pass, our weekly education newsletter, to see election results from those districts. 

In Tennessee, the primary candidate with the most votes wins—even if that candidate receives less than 50% of the total vote. Tennessee is one of 40 states without primary election runoffs. The state does not cancel uncontested primaries, and write-in candidates are required to file with the county in the district in which they’re running. 

Click below to learn more about Tennessee’s primaries.  

Keep reading 

We’ve got Aug. 2 election results!  

Voters in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Washington went to the polls yesterday. In tomorrow’s Brew, we’ll take a closer look at the biggest storylines to emerge from Tuesday’s results and how they may affect the November elections. 

In the meantime, check out our Aug. 2 election hub to see the latest results. You can also subscribe to The Heart of the Primaries, our weekly dive into key congressional, legislative, and executive races. The next edition comes out Thursday!

Click on the links below to see results from the battleground elections that happened last night:





See more election results below!

Keep reading 

Help solve the ballot information problem—apply to join our Volunteer Fellows Program! 

Few voters know who is on their ballot, and they don’t have an easy way to find out. This is called the ballot information problem. We believe it’s possible to fill this information gap, and in doing so, bring enthusiasm back to the political process.

How do we do it? That’s where you can play a key role. 

If you’re a high school or college student who loves politics—or know someone who does—Ballotpedia wants you to apply for our Fall 2022 Volunteer Fellows Program. We’re excited to announce that applications are open for the Fall 2022 class of our Volunteer Fellows Program!

We started Ballotpedia Fellows in June 2020 to provide high school and college students with a service opportunity to work directly with our staff to gain subject matter expertise in political research and analysis. We are also happy to work with college students who wish to use this experience for academic credit in accordance with their university policies.

Here’s what a former fellow had to say about the program:

“Thank you so much for providing students with this amazing opportunity! I’m so glad to have been able to do something so interesting and impactful over the summer. The coronavirus put so many obstacles in the way for students, which is why I am so grateful that you and the rest of the Ballotpedia team helped us out this summer.”—Ethan V. 

Now, rolling into our eighth class, fellows will have the opportunity to work on a number of projects, including local and ultralocal candidate research, direct candidate outreach, and supporting various Ballotpedia teams. If you are interested in joining or know any students who might be, please send the link to the application their way! We will be accepting applications from now through Aug. 14.

Apply here!