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Not much drama in Tenn. state and local elections, but there are some interesting firsts


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — With all eyes on the presidential election, the biggest race in Tennessee remains the open U.S. Senate seat now that Republican incumbent Sen. Lamar Alexander is retiring as his term ends. A handful of U.S. House and legislative seats also remain competitive in the GOP-dominant state. Here is a summary of those races on the ballot:


Republican Bill Hagerty is riding President Donald Trump’s endorsement into a matchup against Democrat Marquita Bradshaw, whose surprise primary win made her the first Black woman nominated for statewide office by either major political party in Tennessee.

Republicans have held both Senate seats in Tennessee since 1994, and Trump has remained popular enough in the red state that Hagerty has mentioned the president and echoed his stances at every turn, both in a contested primary and the general election campaign.

Hagerty is the former U.S. ambassador to Japan under Trump, and the Nashville businessman currently sits on the board of a private investment firm. He served as the economic development commissioner for former Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

Hagerty also was as an adviser to former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, but on the campaign trail he criticized the current U.S. senator from Utah, who has drawn the ire of Trump supporters for voting to convict the president during his Senate impeachment trial.

Bradshaw is an environmental justice and labor issues activist and community organizer. She is a single mother who has battled foreclosure and bankruptcy and struggled with student loan debt while working jobs without health insurance.


The only open congressional race in Tennessee will almost certainly result in a woman joining the state’s nine-member U.S. House delegation, which is currently all-male.

Republican Diana Harshbarger is facing off against Democrat Blair Walsingham in a district in northeastern Tennessee that has been represented by Republicans since the Civil War.

The two are hoping to replace outgoing U.S. House Rep. Phil Roe, who announced earlier this year that he wouldn’t pursue a sixth term.

A woman hasn’t held the seat since Louise Reece was elected in 1961 to replace her husband, B. Carroll Reece, when he died.


Outside of the open seat in Tennessee’s 1st District, incumbents are seeking reelection in the remaining eight districts and have raised far more money than their opponents.

In the 2nd District, Republican Rep. Tim Burchett is hoping to secure a second term against Democratic candidate Renee Hoyos. Over in the 3rd District, Republican Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is facing off with Democrat Meg Gorman. In the 4th District, Democrat Christopher Hale is running against GOP Rep. Scott DesJarlais.

Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper is running unopposed in the general election in Tennessee’s 5th District. Cooper is one of Tennessee’s two Democratic House members.

The other, seven-term incumbent Rep. Steve Cohen, faces Republican Charlotte Bergmann and two independent candidates in the 9th District, which encompasses the city of Memphis.

In the solidly Republican 6th Congressional District, one-term incumbent John Rose is facing challenges from Democrat Christopher Finley and independent Christopher Monday. Republican Rep. Mark Green looks to return to the House for a second term against Democrat Kiran Sreepada and two independents in the sprawling 7th District.

Republican Rep. David Kustoff is vying for a third House term in the 8th District in west Tennessee. He is challenged by Democrat Erika Stotts Pearson and two independents.


All 99 state House seats and about half of the 33 Senate seats are on the ballot, but Republicans say they are confident they will be able to keep their supermajorities in both chambers.

Still, some GOP lawmakers face tough contests.

Sen. Steve Dickerson, a physician representing a Nashville-centered district, is the Senate’s most moderate Republican, and often sides with Democrats on testy issues, including his advocacy for medical marijuana. Dickerson faces Democrat Heidi Campbell, the former mayor of Oak Hill.

Republican Sen. Todd Gardenhire of Chattanooga, meanwhile, is tangled up in a contest against Glenn Scruggs, a Black Democrat and the city’s assistant police chief.

Eight Republican senators face Democratic challenges, most of them in Republican-tilted districts.

The open contest to replace retiring Republican Sen. Dolores Gresham pits Republican Page Walley, a former Department of Children’s Services commissioner, against Civil Miller-Watkins, who is the chair of the state Democratic Party’s Black Caucus and also a Fayette County school board member.

On the House side, 41 Republicans and 19 Democrats have no opposition from the other party, though a handful of them face independent opponents.

One race in the spotlight is the seat of Rep. John DeBerry in Memphis. DeBerry was a Democrat until his party booted him from the ballot because of the Black preacher’s tendency to side with Republicans. He is now running for his current seat as an independent against Torrey Harris, a Black Democratic human resources professional who, as a bisexual man, is among a few legislative candidates this year who could become the first openly LGBTQ Tennessee lawmaker.

The open races to replace Republican Reps. Jim Coley in suburban Memphis and Martin Daniel in the Knoxville area also have been competitive, as has the reelection effort for GOP Rep. Mike Sparks, who is defending his Rutherford County seat in the Nashville suburbs.

Find AP’s full election coverage at APNews.com/Election2020

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