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Stories about Tennessee

Diana Harshbarger wins 16-candidate TN-01 Republican primary

Diana Harshbarger defeated 15 other candidates in Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District’s Republican Party primary on August 6, 2020. Incumbent Rep. Phil Roe (R), first elected in 2008, is not running for re-election.

Harshbarger received 19.2% of the vote, followed by Timothy Hill with 16.8%, Rusty Crowe with 16.1%, Josh Gapp with 14.2%, and Steve Darden with 12.4%.

 

Harshbarger will face Blair Walsingham (D) and Steve Holder (I) in the general election. Three race-tracking outlets rate the general election as Safe/Solid Republican. In the 2016 presidential election in the district, Donald Trump (R) received 77% of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s (D) 20%.

 

Elections to the U.S. House will be held on November 3 and coincide with the 2020 presidential election. All 435 House districts will be up for election, and the results will determine the partisan balance of the U.S. House in the 117th Congress. As of July 2020, Democrats had a 232-198 advantage over Republicans. There was one Libertarian member, and there were four vacancies.


Rep. Jim Cooper defeats two challengers in TN-05 Democratic primary

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D) defeated Keeda Haynes and Joshua Rawlings in Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District Democratic primary on August 6, 2020. With 52% of precincts reporting, Cooper received 56.6% of the vote to Haynes’ 40.8% and Rawlings’ 2.6%.

No Republican candidate filed to run for the seat, so Cooper will appear on the November 3 general election ballot unopposed. Cooper has served in the U.S. House since 2003.

Elections to the U.S. House will be held on November 3, 2020, and coincide with the 2020 presidential election. All 435 House districts will be up for election, and the results will determine the partisan balance of the U.S. House in the 117th Congress. As of July 2020, Democrats had a 232-198 advantage over Republicans. There was one Libertarian member, and there were four vacancies.



Hagerty wins Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Tennessee

Bill Hagerty won the 15-candidate Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Tennessee. With 31% of the vote reporting, Hagerty had received 52.5% of the vote and Manny Sethi had received 37.9%. George Flinn Jr. was the only candidate with more than 3% of the vote.

Incumbent Sen. Lamar Alexander (R), first elected in 2002, did not run for re-election.

Hagerty received endorsements from Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and U.S. President Donald Trump (R), whose administration he previously served in as the U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Sethi, an orthopedic surgeon, received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), founder of the Senate Conservatives Fund and the former president of the Heritage Foundation.

According to pre-primary campaign finance reports, Hagerty raised $12.3 million, the second-highest total among all non-incumbent Republicans in 2020 U.S. Senate primaries at the time. He reported $2.7 million cash on hand. Sethi raised $4.6 million with $386,000 on hand. Satellite spending totaled over $4 million primarily in the form of campaign ads. Standing With Conservatives spent $110,000 on ads supporting Hagerty and $1.2 million opposing Sethi. America One spent $375,000 opposing Sethi. Conservative Outsider PAC and Protect Freedom PAC spent $1 million opposing Hagerty and $1.5 million supporting Sethi, respectively.

Hagerty will face the winner of the Democratic primary on November 3, 2020. Three race forecasters rate the general election as Safe/Solid Republican.

Republicans currently control 53 seats in the Senate. Democrats control 45. There are two Independents who caucus with the Democrats.

Thirty-five elections will take place for the U.S. Senate in November, including special elections in Arizona for the seat that John McCain (R) won in 2016 and in Georgia for the seat that Johnny Isakson (R) won in 2016.

 



Davis joins Tennessee Court of Appeals after delayed confirmation

Over 60 days after Gov. Bill Lee (R) appointed Kristi Davis to the Tennessee Court of Appeals, Davis was confirmed and sworn into office. She resigned from her position on the state’s Sixth Circuit Court on July 31 and assumed office on the appellate court on August 3.

Davis fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Charles Susano, the longest-serving judge in the history of the Tennessee Court of Appeals. Lee appointed Davis on May 28, 2020, but her confirmation hearing was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Tennessee state legislature suspended its legislative session this spring effective March 19 until June 1. The legislature then adjourned on June 19.

Had the legislature voted to confirm Davis upon returning to session in June, she would have been required to stand for retention election this month. Tennessee appellate judges are mandated to stand for retention election in the next general election occurring at least 30 days after the vacancy occurs, and general judicial elections in the state take place during the non-judicial primary in August.

The Tennessee courts reported that mail-in ballots for the August election had already been distributed and that it would have cost an additional $700,000 to send out ballots including Davis’ name. Tennessee law states that nominees not confirmed by the state legislature within 60 days are automatically confirmed the following day. Tennessee Sen. Mike Bell (R) said of the decision to allow Davis to be automatically confirmed, “After talking about it and realizing that especially in these times of crunched budgets $700,000 is not an insignificant amount of money…What we decided to do would be to allow the nominee to be confirmed basically by default by us not acting.”

Judicial elections for the appellate court in Tennessee are held every two years in even-numbered years. Davis will thus stand for retention election in 2022, and her current term ends on August 31 of that year.

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Previewing Tennessee’s U.S. Senate Republican primary

Fifteen candidates are running in the Republican Party primary for U.S. Senate in Tennessee on August 6, 2020. Incumbent Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), first elected in 2002, is not running for re-election. Two candidates—Bill Hagerty and Manny Sethi—lead in media attention, noteworthy primary endorsements, advertisement activity, and campaign spending.

CNN‘s Alex Rogers and Manu Raju wrote that the primary “resembles the political battles of the past, with libertarian and tea party-aligned conservatives taking on party leaders and the GOP establishment.”

Hagerty received endorsements from Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and U.S. President Donald Trump (R), whose administration he previously served in as the U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Sethi, an orthopedic surgeon, received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), founder of the Senate Conservatives Fund and former president of the Heritage Foundation.

Both candidates have aired campaign ads criticizing the other’s previous political donations and questioning their conservatism.

Hagerty released an ad saying Sethi “refused to donate a dollar to Donald Trump’s campaign against Hillary Clinton, but [he] did give money to liberal ActBlue helping Nancy Pelosi defeat Republicans,” referring to a $50 donation made by Sethi to ActBlue in 2008.

In a responding ad, Sethi’s wife, Maya, said she made the donation at the request of a friend. She continued, saying, “Bill Hagerty’s attacking me to hurt my husband, but Hagerty gave [Mitt] Romney and Al Gore over $100,000.” According to FEC reports, Hagerty donated $1,000 to Gore (D) in 2000 and $80,000 to Romney (R) between 2007 and 2012. He served as the national finance chairman for Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign.

According to pre-primary campaign finance reports, Hagerty raised $12.3 million, the second-highest total among all non-incumbent Republicans in 2020 U.S. Senate primaries. He reported $2.7 million cash on hand. Sethi raised $4.6 million and had $386,000 on hand.

Three race forecasters rate the general election as Safe/Solid Republican. In the three preceding senatorial elections, Republican general election candidates received at least 54% of the vote. Before 2020, the most recent time Tennessee had elected a Democratic U.S. Senator was 1990 when Al Gore (D) defeated William R. Hawkins (R).


Previewing Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District Republican primary

Sixteen candidates are running in Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District’s Republican Party primary on August 6, 2020. Incumbent Rep. Phil Roe (R), first elected in 2008, is not running for re-election.

Five candidates—John Clark, Rusty Crowe, Josh Gapp, Diana Harshbarger, and Timothy Hill—lead in fundraising and advertisement activity.

The top three fundraisers—Harshbarger, Gapp, and Clark—have largely self-financed their campaigns. Self-contributions made up 89% of Harshbarger’s $1.5 million raised and 76% of Clark’s $652,000 raised. Gapp has almost entirely self-financed his campaign with $852,000 of his $853,000 total coming from the candidate himself. Crowe and Hill have raised $376,00 and $230,000, respectively.

Groups have spent roughly $963,000 on satellite spending in the race. Club for Growth Action and House Freedom Fund have spent $520,000 opposing Harshbarger, Crow, and Gapp, and $441,000 supporting Hill.

Clark, Crowe, and Hill all held or currently hold elected positions. Clark was the Mayor of Kingsport from 2015 to 2019. Crowe and Hill serve in the Tennessee State Legislature, Crowe as a senator since 1991 and Hill as a representative since 2012. All three candidates have released ads or statements pointing to their records in their respective positions as support for their candidacies.

In the 2016 presidential election, Trump (R) received 77% of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s (D) 20%.


Tennessee to hold congressional primaries August 6

Tennessee is holding primaries for one seat in the U.S. Senate and nine seats in the U.S. House on August 6. Candidates are competing for a place on the general election ballot on November 3. The filing deadline for candidates to run in this election was April 2.

The open race for the state’s U.S. Senate seat has 20 primary candidates—five Democrats and 15 Republicans. Incumbent Lamar Alexander (R) announced on December 17, 2018, that he would not seek re-election in 2020. He was first elected to the chamber in 2002.

Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District is also an open race. Incumbent Phil Roe (R) announced on January 3, 2020, that he would not seek re-election in 2020. Three Democrats and 16 Republicans are running in the primary.

The state’s other eight congressional incumbents, which includes six Republicans and two Democrats, are running for re-election. Incumbents Tim Burchett (R), Charles J. Fleischmann (R), John Rose (R), Mark Green (R), and David Kustoff (R) are running unopposed in their respective primaries. At least one challenger is running in the Democratic primaries for each of those seats.

In Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District, incumbent Scott DesJarlais is running against two challengers in the Republican primary, and two candidates are running in the Democratic primary. The 5th Congressional District incumbent Jim Cooper (D) is also facing two challengers in his primary. No Republicans filed to run for that seat. In Tennessee’s 9th Congressional District, incumbent Steve Cohen (D) is running against two primary challengers, and one candidate is running in the Republican primary.

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Tennessee to hold state legislative primaries

The statewide primary election for Tennessee is on August 6, 2020. The filing deadline to run passed on April 2. The general election will be held on November 3. Candidates are running in elections for the following offices:
16 state Senate seats

99 state House seats

One state court of appeals judge is also up for retention election on August 6. If retained, Judge Carma Dennis McGee will serve an additional eight years on the court.

Tennessee has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

Tennessee’s primary election is the 37th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next primary is on August 8 in Hawaii.

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Judge rules that Tennessee must provide absentee ballots to all eligible voters on request

Ellen Hobbs Lyle, a judge on the Davidson County Chancery Court in Nashville, Tennessee, ruled on June 4 that the state must give all eligible voters the option to vote by mail in upcoming elections because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision is expected to be appealed.

In Tennessee, voters can request an absentee ballot if they meet certain requirements. For example, voters who will be outside their county during the early registration period and all day on election day and voters over the age of 60 are eligible for absentee ballots.

The Secretary of State’s office has put together a coronavirus plan for upcoming elections that focuses on sanitary measures and social distancing.

Tennessee is holding a primary on August 6. The general election is scheduled for November 3. Tennessee has a Republican state trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.



GA, SC, TN announce plans to reopen businesses

The governors of Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee each announced Monday plans for businesses in their state to begin reopening after closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced that fitness and hygiene businesses could reopen as early as April 24, followed by restaurants and theaters on April 27. He said bars and nightclubs would still remain closed.

In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster (R) announced that nonessential retail businesses closed as part of his stay-at-home order would be allowed to reopen. This includes department stores, sporting goods stores, and book, music, shoe, and craft stores to reopen, among others.

In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee (R) announced that the state’s stay-at-home order would expire on April 30. He said that this means most businesses across the state would be allowed to reopen on May 1.

Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage on how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting America’s political and civic life. Our coverage includes how federal, state, and local governments are responding, and the effects those responses are having on campaigns and elections.


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