Races to watch: Is the legislature’s majority in play?

Races to watch: Is the legislature’s majority in play?


Nashville Post

It’s not just U.S. Senate and governor on Tennessee ballots.

Though Republicans hold large majorities in both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly, Democrats made it a point to get candidates on the ballot in districts long left unchallenged, and dozens of incumbent legislators opted to retire or run for different offices, offering the promise of significant change at the Capitol next year.

Here’s a list of legislative races to watch across the state Tuesday:

State House District 13

Democrat Gloria Johnson hopes to retake the Knoxville-area seat Rep. Eddie Smith won from her in 2014. In a 2016 rematch, Smith won by just a few hundred votes.

State House District 18

Republican incumbent Martin Daniel is attempting to fend off Democrat Greg Mackay in this Knoxville seat.

State House District 56

Republican Speaker Beth Harwell has held this wealthy Nashville district that includes Belle Meade and Green Hills for decades, but she retired to run for governor and it went for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016. Businessman Bob Freeman (whose father, Bill Freeman, is a prominent Democratic fundraiser and a co-owner of the Nashville Post, Nashville Scene and Homepage Media Group) faces off against surgeon Brent Moody, the Republican nominee.

Rebecca Purington
Brandon Ogles

State House District 61

Democrat Rebecca Purington and Republican Brandon Ogles hope to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Charles Sargent in this Brentwood-area seat. One local operative suggests a Democratic upset is not out of the realm of possibility.

State House District 71

Republican Rep. David Byrd’s rural district southwest of Nashville is so solidly conservative that a Democrat hasn’t bothered to run for a decade. But in March, three women said Byrd had inappropriate sexual relationships with them while they were on the high school basketball team he coached. Byrd did not deny the allegations and Republican leaders called on Byrd to resign, but instead he’s running for re-election against Democratic challenger Frankie Floied, who has sought to distance himself from the Nashville and national activists trying to unseat Byrd.

State Senate District 17

Republican Sen. Mark Pody won the seat, formerly held by Mae Beavers, in a special election late last year by 307 votes. His opponent last year, Democrat Mary Alice Carfi, is back for a rematch in the district, which includes Lebanon and Mount Juliet.

State Senate District 31

Incumbent Republican Brian Kelsey is in a re-election fight against Democrat Gabby Salinas for the East Memphis and Germantown district. Lt. Gov. Randy McNally’s fundraising group spent $300,000 on an ad attacking Salinas, a scientist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, perhaps a sign that the race is closer than expected.

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