Mava Garvin (right) helps a resident prior to voting Nov. 6, 2012, at Central Magnet School in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (TMP Photo/M. Kemph)
Rutherford County voters helped lead the Republican Party to a supermajority Tuesday in both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly, overwhelmingly throwing their support behind several conservative politicians.
For the first time since the Civil War era, Tennessee will have a Republican supermajority in the state House and Senate.
“Tennessee voters affirmed that our state is heading in the right direction,” said Chris Devaney, chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party. “Republicans are once again honored that voters have put their trust in our party to lead our state to a better future.”
Republican candidate Dawn White won by a decisive 63 percent victory against Democratic candidate Robert “Bob” New, who received 36 percent of the vote, in the newly drawn 37th District seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives.
“I am looking forward to serving the residents of the 37th District,” White said, adding she will continue to listen to the concerns of voters, especially those about the economy and unemployment rate, in Rutherford County.
“I want to help make Tennessee the most business friendly state in the nation,” she said, “so that we can attract high paying jobs for residents.”
White will join fellow Republican state Reps. Rick Womick, Joe Carr and Matt Sparks, all of whom were re-elected to the General Assembly.
Womick handedly defeated Democratic candidate Luke Dickerson with 67 percent of the 25,632 ballots cast in the 34th District race, while Sparks successfully fended off Democratic challenger Mike Williams in the 49th District with 58 percent of the vote.
Carr, who was unopposed in his third bid for office, will represent the 48th District during the next legislative session.
“I am grateful to have the opportunity to represent Rutherford County again,” Carr said, “and I appreciate all of the support I have received throughout the years.”
State Sen. Jim Tracy, who also ran unopposed, received 98 percent of the 20,496 votes cast in the 14th District race.
“(These) victories can be credited to good candidates, a solid message, and an aggressive ground game,” Devaney said, adding strong caucus leadership in the General Assembly was an important factor in securing the supermajority.
These leaders went above and beyond to help elect Republican candidates, and their hard work was critical in our success this year, he said.
“I also want to thank the thousands of donors, volunteers, and party leadership members who gave us their support,” Devaney said. “Clearly, we would not be where we are without the critical resources they provided us over the course of this election cycle.”
State Sen. Bill Ketron, who was not up for re-election this year, said he was pleased with the continued success Republicans have enjoyed in Tennessee in recent years.
“We are very excited about the gains we have made tonight,” said Ketron, chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus, who represents the 13th District in the General Assembly.
“We are humbled by the confidence the voters have placed in us and look forward to getting down to work on the many issues we face, as the General Assembly convenes in January,” he said.
The support Republicans received in state campaigns from Rutherford County voters also carried over into the congressional races.
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker overwhelmingly won with more than 65 percent of the vote, fending off Democratic challenger Mark E. Clayton and seven other independent candidates.
“As I begin a new term, I pledge to continue waking up every day and working to solve the major problems our country faces,” Corker said. “I do not take lightly the trust that Tennesseans have given me to reach across the aisle and tackle our nation’s greatest threat – the critical task of getting our fiscal house in order.”
Corker said he would remain focused on addressing the national debt, noting it is hampering economic growth.
“If we can solve this fiscal challenge appropriately,” he said, “I believe we will unleash significant economic growth and be able to fully focus on ensuring the greatness of America.”
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais won a hard-fought battle against his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Eric Stewart.
Despite facing revelations involving extramarital affairs, DesJarlais edged out Stewart with nearly 60 percent of the votes cast in the 4th Congressional District race.
“For the second election in a row, my opponents and the liberal media have tried to ignore the problems facing our nation, and instead, concentrate solely on a 14-year-old divorce,” DesJarlais said. “(These) election results clearly show that Tennesseans want leaders in Washington, D.C., who are focused on providing solutions that will ensure a brighter future for our country.”
Only weeks before the election, transcripts were released that revealed DesJarlais had an affair with a female patient and later pressured her to have an abortion – a situation that could have possibly violated ethical guidelines set forth by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners.
He said, however, voters have proven they are not concerned with the mud-slinging style of politics Democrats thrust into the race.
“When I first ran for Congress, I promised that I would fight to reduce the size of government, end the deficit spending, and repeal ‘Obamacare,’” DesJarlais said. “I believe that I have kept these promises, and I look forward to using this term to build upon the many successes already achieved by Republicans.”