Republican voters, including in Trousdale County, lit up the state in red Tuesday in races for governor, U.S. Senate and U.S. House.
Republican businessman Bill Lee was named Tennessee’s next governor, after he defeated Democratic former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean on Tuesday.
Lee will replace outgoing Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.
“I’m grateful for the voters of Tennessee, grateful that you placed your trust in us to lead this great state,” Lee said during his acceptance speech. “We ran a positive campaign from the very beginning until the very last day because we wanted to give a picture of what this state could look like.”
Trousdale County voters went for Lee by a 2-to-1 margin, with the Republican outpolling Dean 1,737 (65.5 percent) to 881 (33.2 percent).
Lee secured the Republican nomination in August against Congresswoman Diane Black, Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd and House Speaker Beth Harwell.
Lee chairs his family business, Lee Co., a mechanical contracting, facilities and home services firm with more than 1,200 employees. Lee also is active in his 1,000-acre family cattle operation.
Dean conceded shortly after the race was called, and urged Tennesseans to support the new governor-elect. It was the first time the former two-term Nashville mayor and former elected public defender had ever lost an election.
“We didn’t quite reach the goal tonight,” Dean said during his concession speech. “Despite everybody’s hard work, our message didn’t quite carry the day.”
Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn also defeated Democratic challenger former Gov. Phil Bredesen on Tuesday in an open race for U.S. Senate after Sen. Bob Corker decided not to seek re-election.
Sixty percent (1,584) of Trousdale voters backed Blackburn, with 38 percent (1,002) going for Bredesen.
Blackburn was first elected to the House in 2002 and aligned with President Donald Trump early and often during the fierce Senate campaign.
“You have sent a message that it is time to take Tennessee conservative values to Washington and keep our state and our country moving forward,” Blackburn said Tuesday night. “I am so incredibly grateful to each of you for doing your part, standing with me, staying strong and turning out the vote. It is such an honor to be the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Tennessee. I am going to work as hard for you as you have worked for me. Just as we said on day one, I will take our shared Tennessee values to work on issues of importance to you in Washington, more constitutional federal judges and Supreme Court Justices, lower taxes, less regulation, protecting the right to life, defending the Second Amendment, providing for our troops and veterans, getting the federal budget under control and building the wall once and for all on the southern border. Thank you for believing in me and giving me this opportunity. This is very humbling, and I will not let you down.”
The $85 million-plus race set a state record in spending by candidates and outside groups and gained national interest because of its potential implications for the Republican Party’s slim majority in the Senate.
“I just really want those young people to know how important it is to the future of our country that you not get discouraged, that you stay engaged and you never, ever, ever give up,” Bredesen said Tuesday night.
Republican newcomer John Rose won the race for the Sixth Congressional District in the U.S. House on Tuesday night, over Democrat Dawn Barlow. Independents Lloyd Dunn and David Ross were also on the ballot. The four ran for the seat vacated by Black when she resigned to run for governor.
“I am happy to get to work in Congress for the people of the Sixth District,” Rose said. “We need to take on our debt issue instead of shy away from it, build the wall, support our president and create a health care system that works for all Americans. We have a lot of work to do, but I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”
Barlow said, “I am proud of the campaign we ran that focused on the issues, and I think that’s all we can say.”
Democrat incumbents Steve Cohen in Tennessee’s Ninth District and Jim Cooper in the state’s Fifth District were the lone blue candidates to win their respective House races Tuesday out of the nine congressional districts in Tennessee.
State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) was unopposed on the ballot and was elected to a sixth term representing District 40, which includes Trousdale County.
Contributing: Chris Gregory, Hartsville Vidette; Angie Mayes, Lebanon correspondent