Jul 1 2010
12:09 pm

We've finally gotten around to looking at the 99 races for the Tennessee House of Representatives. As you are aware (but we'll repeat it like a broken record anyway), this is the most important election in recent memory because of the gerrymandering redistricting that will occur after the 2010 Census.

If Republicans maintain their tenuous control of the House, Democrats are out of business for a generation and our kids will be praying in public schools at the start of every Jesus rode dinosaurs class for vouchers and guns for Christmas so they can grow up to meet the gays, immigrants and Obama at the border after stopping by the Pilot to gas up the Hummer and buy a lotto ticket and a pack of cigs on the way.

Assuming our counts are correct, here are some basic numbers (for the purposes of this discussion, Speaker Williams is an R):

• Current split: 51 (R) v. 48 (D). Democrats need to hold every seat plus flip two R seats to achieve a one seat majority.

• 22 Republicans are running unopposed, v. 10 Democrats. Add in party and independent opposition only, and Republicans have 25 safe seats v. 11 for Democrats. Democrats are starting a lap down coming out of the primary into the general.

• Republicans are challenging 30 incumbent Democrats and facing only 17 Democratic challengers. The power of incumbency gives Republicans a mathematical edge here.

• There are five open Republican seats v. two for Democrats. This may be the best hope for Democrats.

By our count, Democrats have fielded seven (at least marginally) "credible candidates" in the contested races, v. eight for Republicans. Republicans have fielded 11 credible candidates for the open seats v. seven for Democrats.

Our first pass without knowing much about most of the districts and/or candidates suggests that Democrats and Republicans are tied at 47 for probable and likely seats, with five seats up for grabs. Democrats must win three for an upset, but four are currently held by Republicans. In other races, Democrats have a slim to credible chance of flipping an R seat in nine races, v. eight chances for Republicans to flip a D seat.

Looking closer, Democrats have a fighting chance in District 2 for Nathan Vaughn to take back the seat that was stolen from him by crazy Tony Shipley, and a pretty good shot in 18 with Sam Alexander v. likely Republican nominee Steve Hall. Others that could be competitive once the general election campaigns crank up include Todd Mrozek v. Matthew Hill in 7, somebody (Keith Clotfelter?) v. Chad Faulkner in 36, James Hale or Jamie Winkler v. Terri Lynn Weaver in 40, Charles Ihrig v. Debra Maggart in 45, Matthew Kenigson v. Beth Harwell in 56, and Joe Shepard v. Curtis Halford in 69. Also in the realm of possibility could be Jenny Hunt v. Pat Marsh in 62 and Danny Twork v. Phillip Johnson in 78.

But Democrats are in a fight to hold on to the District 10 seat being vacated by John Litz and the District 60 seat being vacated by Ben West. Plus, Henry Fincher in 42, Stratton Bone in 46, Kent Coleman in 49, Sherry Jones in 59, Ty Cobb in 64, Wille Borchert in 75, and Judy Barker in 77 have all been targed by Republicans and drawn credible challengers.

So the road map to 50 for Democrats could be for Nathan Vaughn or Sam Alexander to flip an R seat, to knock off one of Chad Faulkner, Matthew Hill, or Terri Lynn Weaver, plus take at least one or probably two of the other competitive seats as insurance against Republican challenges across the board.

It could happen.

ATTACHED: State House Primaries

SnM's picture

Just want to say

That second paragraph is delightful.

R. Neal's picture



R. Neal's picture

I should add that Democrat

I should add that Democrat Jim Hackworth (H33) is allegedly targeted by the GOP, too, but his challengers don't seem all that well organized and one of them appears to be batshit crazy.

citizenX's picture


If there weren't so many words in the second paragraph I would have the whole thing printed onto a bumper sticker.

Thanks for chuckle!! You made my day.

R. Neal's picture

Rob Huddleson (who's a pretty

Rob Huddleson (who's a pretty good guy for a Republican with whom I share apparently mutual respect) retorts, explaining how my so-called predictions "suck like a bilge pump."

He makes some good points. It will be tough to nigh on impossible. But for the record, I'm not making predictions, I'm just looking at the field trying to figure out how the TNDP could possibly get to 50. And as I noted in the original post, it will be tough and I noted some of the obstacles out of the gate. The TNGOP has fielded some tough challengers in some key races, as I also noted.

So anyway, I'm not predicting any outcome. (If forced, my guess is that it will stay the same at 51-48.) I'm doing a little cheerleading and trying to figure out how this might get done. If somebody else has ideas on how to get to 50 I'd love to know it, otherwise we are screwed.

Hopefully the TNDP is sandbagging and has a super-double-secret Master Plan with some sleeper candidates who will catch fire after the primary and surprise us all.

I think it will also be a test of the Tea Party influence for Republicans, judging by some of the challengers. Unfortunately, that stuff seems to play in Tennessee. Even with some of the so-called Democratic candidates.

Andy Axel's picture

Hopefully the TNDP is

Hopefully the TNDP is sandbagging and has a super-double-secret Master Plan with some sleeper candidates who will catch fire after the primary and surprise us all.

It's so super-double-secret that no one will be informed of what it is, and when it fails, the voting public will be blamed for not falling in line with it.

But, as you indirectly point out, there is always "hope."

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