Rep. Barbara Cooper, Tennessee’s oldest serving lawmaker, dies

Tennessee Rep. Barbara Cooper (D) died on Oct. 25, 2022.

Cooper was first elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1996. According to U.S. News & World Report, she was the oldest serving lawmaker in Tennessee history. Cooper most recently ran for election in 2020, winning with 72.7% of the vote.

If there is a vacancy in the Tennessee General Assembly, there are two ways a vacancy can be filled. When 12 months or more remain in an unfilled term, a special election must be held within the allowable time frame set by law. If fewer than 12 months remain in a term, members of the legislative body in the county that the vacancy occurred must vote on a replacement.

As of Nov. 1, there have been 132 state legislative vacancies in 42 states during 2022. Sixty-two of those vacancies have been filled. Of the 132 vacancies, 68 are Democratic and 62 are Republican. Democrats have filled 36 vacancies, while Republicans have filled 25.

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