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2012 elections review: Tennessee holds congressional, state legislative primaries

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August 3, 2012

By Ballotpedia's Congressional and State legislative teams

The primary season continued yesterday, with elections in Tennessee. Voters sent another nine incumbents packing in the State legislature, with possibly more to come as several undecided races get sorted out.

Contested Primaries in Tennessee -- August 2, 2012
U.S. House
(9 seats)
State Legislature
(115 seats)
Total Democratic Contested Primaries 3 (33.3%) 18 (15%)
Total Republican Contested Primaries 7 (77.8%) 46 (40%)

U.S. Senate

United States Senate elections in Tennessee, 2012

A total of 18 candidates filed to run for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Republican Bob Corker -- 8 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 5 Independent candidates. Incumbent Bob Corker handily won the Republican primary, receiving 85% of the vote. On the other side of the aisle Mark Clayton was victorious in the Democratic primary, receiving 30% of the vote, nearly double that of the next closest competitor.

U.S. House

United States House of Representatives elections in Tennessee, 2012

Tennessee has a total of nine seats on the ballot in 2012. A total of 49 candidates filed to run, made up of 24 Republicans, 12 Democrats, and 13 Independents. All nine incumbents decided to run for re-election this year, and victories by the six who faced primary challengers yesterday determined that the full set will advance to the general election. The other three - Jim Cooper (D), Marsha Blackburn (R) and Phil Roe (R) - sailed through uncontested.

The most crowded primary race was the Republican field for Tennessee's 5th Congressional District. There, five GOP candidates sought the chance to take on Democratic incumbent Rep. Jim Cooper in November, with Brad Staats ultimately scoring his party's nomination.

In Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District, Republican incumbent Charles J. Fleischmann overcame a particularly tough primary challenge from three fellow GOPers: Weston Wamp, Charles Mayfield, and Ron Bhalla. Despite the challengers' considerable efforts to undermine him throughout the campaign season,[1] Fleischmann managed a decisive win last night, earning 39% of the vote- eight percentage points more than the second highest vote getter.[2]

Another incumbent who faced a primary challenge is Republican Rep. Diane Black in Tennessee's 6th Congressional District. Tennessee millionaire Andy Miller spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat Black and support Tea Party candidate Lou Ann Zelenik. Miller is a strong advocate of an anit-Islamist agenda, and faults Black for not taking the threat of radical Islam seriously enough. Zelenik, on the other hand, is a strong voice against Islam. But Black ultimately came out victorious, garnering a resounding 69% of the vote.[3]

State legislature

Tennessee State Senate elections, 2012 and Tennessee House of Representatives elections, 2012

There are 115 total legislative seats with elections in 2012 -- 16 Senate seats and 99 House seats.

There were 18 (15%) contested Democratic primaries and 46 (40%) contested Republican primaries. Thus, there were 64 races with at least two candidates on the ballot. The 64 major party primaries represented 28% of possible primaries. This figure is slightly higher the current national contested average of 19.38% for states that have had filing deadlines.

As of August 3, there were still several undecided races, seven in the House and three in the Senate. Of the races that were decided, the following 9 incumbents were defeated:



Of the races that were undecided, House districts 2, 12, 31, 58, and 71 involved incumbents.


Races of note in the Senate:

Republican Party District 2: Incumbent Doug Overbey defeated challenger Scott Hughes.
Republican Party District 14: Incumbent Jim Tracy defeated Matt Randolph.
Democratic Party District 20: Phillip L. North defeated James A. Baxter.
Republican Party District 30: Incumbent Jim Kyle defeated incumbent Beverly Marrero.


Races of note in the House:

Republican Party District 2: Republican incumbent Tony Shipley was challenged by Ben Mallicote. The election night returns did not yield an official winner, with Shipley up by only 11 votes.[4]
Republican Party District 11: Incumbent Jeremy Faison (R) defeated Phil Morgan Jr..
Republican Party District 20: Bob Ramsey defeated challenger Tona Monroe.
Republican Party District 27: Former Gubernatorial candidate Basil Marceaux, Sr. was defeated by incumbent Richard Floyd, with Marceaux garnering only 9% of the vote.[4]
Democratic Party District 28: Incumbent Tommie F. Brown (D) was defeated by district 29 incumbent JoAnne Favors.
Republican Party District 45: Incumbent Debra Young Maggart was upset by challenger Courtney Rogers, 58%-42%.[4]
Republican Party District 57: Challenger Susan Lynn convincingly defeated incumbent Linda Elam, 68%-32%.[4]
Republican Party District 71: This race has yet to be officially decided, as incumbent Vance Dennis leads challenger Shirley Curry by only 5 votes.[4]
Republican Party District 78: The seven way GOP primary yielded a near three way tie between Mary Littleton (21%), Gary Allen Binkley (20%), and Donnie Kemp (19%). Littleton and Binkley are currently separated by 84 votes.[4]

Tennessee State Senate
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 13 7
     Republican Party 20 26
Total 33 33

Tennessee House of Representatives
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 34 27
     Republican Party 64 71
     Independent 0 1
     Vacancy 1 0
Total 99 99

See also

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