In Oct. 2020, a large group of people wait in line to early vote at Nashville’s Howard Building. (Photo: John Partipilo)
Join the staff of the Tennessee Lookout as we bring you coverage throughout Election Day 2020 of the U.S. Senate race between Democrat Marquita Bradshaw and Republican Bill Hagerty, as well as state house and senate races.
2 years ago
Trump gets easy win in Tennessee
President Donald Trump easily carried Tennessee on Election Day, collecting 11 electoral votes and a majority vote in all but four of the state’s counties.
The outcome of the race against former Vice President Joe Biden in the state was never in doubt.
The Republican president remains reliably popular in Tennessee. He earned 61.02% of votes to the Democratic nominee Biden’s 31.13% on Tuesday — a similar margin of victory to the 2016 election, when Trump earned 60% of the vote in his race against Hillary Clinton.
Trump won every rural county in Tennessee except one: Haywood County in west Tennessee. In the majority Black county with just under 20,000 residents, Biden captured 64.49% of the vote.
The state’s four biggest urban areas were split, with voters Nashville and Memphis favoring Biden while Chattanooga and Knoxville leaned into Trump.
The president won handily in Knox County, where he earned 56.55% of the vote and in Hamilton County, where he won 53.88%.
Biden took 64.49% of the votes in Davidson County and 56.55% in Shelby County.
There were few reported hiccups reported in tabulating votes.
Shelby County had still not issued a final tally by 11 p.m, according to the Secretary of State’s website.
Greene and Washington Counties, both in northeast Tennessee, did not report results until after 10 p.m.
Washington County Election Administrator Maybell Stewart released a statement that said staff shortages due to COVID-19 and the need to count 6,000 absentee ballots by hand slowed reporting.
2 years ago
After reelection win, Jim Cooper says Democrats should focus on healthcare
Congressman Jim Cooper easily won his 16th term in Congress on Tuesday, winning his unopposed race for Tennessee’s fifth Congressional district.
Cooper really won the race in August, when he defeated upstart Keeda Haynes in the Democratic primary. Watching the returns from his home, Cooper expressed gratitude for his win and hope for a strong night for Democrats nationally.
“I think I’m more grateful than ever that the voters support me so strongly and have supported me for so long,” Cooper said. “This could be the biggest turnout election in modern U.S. history. To be unopposed, that’s the highest compliment.”
Cooper said he is keeping close watch on how his friends in the House fare in their reelection bids tonight. Cooper said has friends on both sides of the aisle who he hopes do well, though he obviously hopes Democrats gain seats in the House.
“You want to make sure your friends survive,” Cooper said. “And I have friends on both sides of the aisle. The sad thing in modern politics, it’s harder for moderates to survive. Moderates have to watch both flanks, whereas if you’re on the extreme on either side you only have to watch one flank.
“But, if you want legislation to pass you need more moderates so you can work across the aisle. So you can fashion legislation that will pass.”
Cooper said he hopes that should Democrats win the White House and retake control of the Senate, he hopes the party does a better job to maintain control. His comments came early on election night as initial returns showed President Donald Trump doing well in the battleground states of Florida and Georgia.
Cooper pointed out the last two times Democrats controlled the presidency, Senate and House, it was short-lived in 1992 and 2008. To extend their control, he said Democrats should focus on the “results” that voters want.
“As Mark Twain said, history doesn’t necessarily repeat itself but it does rhyme,” Cooper said. “We need to make sure we do not lose our majority in just two years. Because it will take more than two years to repair the damage Trump has done to the country.
“The problem is over-reach and the snapback effect in the next election. I want to build a Democratic majority that lasts. I think voters want results and healthcare seems to be the No. 1 issue now. Why don’t we cover everyone in America with health insurance and do it in a way that most Americans feel comfortable with is beyond me. That’s largely ObamaCare which is way more popular than its name. Extending (ObamaCare) to make sure everyone gets coverage should be a priority.”
2 years ago
Hagerty wins U.S. Senate race
Bill Hagerty, the former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Tennessee economic development chief and businessman, cruised to victory in the U.S. Senate race against Democrat Marquita Bradshaw on Tuesday.
e Associated Press called the race in his favor at 7:05 p.m.
He will replace retiring U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee political titan who has held the seat since 2003.
Hagerty would have seemed to be following in Tennessee’s long tradition of electing moderates to the Senate. He is an acolyte of moderate U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and served as Commissioner for Economic and Community Development under another moderate Gov. Bill Haslam.
But, during the campaign Hagerty tacked hard to the right to match political upstart Manny Sethi. Hagerty in their bruising primary battle. In that race, Hagerty held the ultimate trump card: support from President Donald Trump, who remains immensely popular in Tennessee.
Hagerty literally touted Trump’s support on his campaign yard signs, and his social media account told the story of a candidate whose primary reason for running was to back the president.
Bradshaw was the surprise winner of the Democratic primary in August, defeating presumed frontrunner James Mackler. She had only raised about $20,000 and was not considered a top tier candidate by political insiders.
Bradshaw’s primary victory made her the first African American woman to be a major party’s Senate nominee. Polls showed her a decisive underdog throughout the race against Hagerty, who did not debate her during the campaign.
2 years ago
In Coffee County, voters cite tradition, mistrust for Election Day voting
On Election Day in Manchester, a rural area in Tennessee, people trickled in and out of polling stations. The quiet, sunny morning belied the polarized climate that has encouraged droves of people to vote.
Raina Mullins, 23, with her 8-month-old daughter Harper, is “feeling nervous” about the elections.
“I think anything that goes on around the country affects everybody, even if it’s just a little bit,” said Mullins, who voted for Donald Trump.
For Fredrick Bradley, 54, voting on Election Day is an important tradition.
“I’ve never done it early,” said Bradley, who voted for Trump.
For some citizens, Election Day was their last chance to vote.
William Brackeen, 25, had been unable to vote early due to health issues but said it was important to make it to the polls, even on the last day. He primarily worries the country’s future response to the pandemic and is voting for Joe Biden.
For other citizens, recent political events motivated their choice to wait.
Ethan Norfleet, 22, voted on Election Day for fear of “shenanigans that could ensue” from early voting and recent issues.
“I don’t want to sound alarmist, but I was worried that not every mail-in ballot would be counted,” said Norfleet, who’s voting for Joe Biden.
“I felt like the best way to make sure my vote was counted was to come out on Election Day,” he said.
Carmen Tomlin, 56, echoed these fears, emphasizing that she was voting on Election Day for her vote “to be counted today and there not be any delays.”
Although lines in Manchester trickled with small batches of voters, Tomlin said “We’re willing to stand in line.”
“We’re going to get the outcome we deserve today,” said Tomlin, who voted for Trump.
“I pray to God that everybody comes out here to vote,” said Bradley, who voted for Trump.
2 years ago
Hot take from House District 49: Thomas says voters are ready for change
On the last day of his campaign as representative for District 49, Brandon Thomas knows that if he wins, it’ll be a close call, and all that’s left to do is wait.
“You can do everything right and still come out short,” said Thomas.
Alongside volunteers and his husband, Michael Finch, Thomas spent Election Day running around Middle Tennessee talking to his supporters.
The Tennessee Lookout caught up with Thomas in Smyrna, where he spent the morning waving at voters, otherwise known as ‘doing visibility.’.
A car pulled up next to his campaign group, causing him to pause for a moment. In these situations, he never knows how people will react but the driver simply wanted to greet him since she had voted for Thomas moments earlier.
“I had one lady tell me to go to hell but it was kinda comical,” said 27-year-old Kati Crosslin, a volunteer.
Thomas is hopeful about his campaign. As a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and the opinion editor at the school’s newspaper, Sidelines, he said his experiences with a diverse range of voices will help him as a state legislator.
“I think people are ready for a change at this point,” said Thomas.
All he can do now is keep himself occupied. He’s had experience with campaigning and is confident more now than ever, especially considering other LGBT candidates have come close to winning.
“It just shows that that momentum carries from election to election,” said Thomas.
Although COVID-19 threw a screwball into his campaign, Thomas went with the flow and learned to use social media to reach young voters.
“It gave us an opportunity to get our message out. When [Mike Sparks] said he didn’t know if the Civil War was fought over slavery, we were able to make a Tik Tok out of that,” he said.
“And it worked,” said Thomas, adding that the video attracted volunteers to his campaign.
He’s still depending on the younger demographics in the district, where the average age is 30, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“We still have a lot of young people that need to come out to vote today,” he said.
2 years ago
ACLU leads coalition of civil rights groups asking Lee to commit to fair voting process
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A coalition of Tennessee civil rights organizations has called on Gov. Bill Lee to publicly state that he will reinforce his commitment to a safe and fair voting process and hold accountable anyone involved in some form of voter intimidation.
The groups involved believe that such a statement would help deter voter intimidation efforts and restore anxious voters’ confidence in their personal safety and in the sanctity of the electoral process.
Members of the coalition, who made their requests known in a letter to Lee dated Friday, include the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Muslim Advisory Coucil, the Tennessee State Conference of the NAACP, Tennessee Equality Project, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood, and Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi.
The letter was drafted amidst nationwide concern that voter intimidation efforts may be on the rise due to inflammatory comments made recently by President Donald Trump. According to the letter, these comments “[raise] concerns about [the president’s] commitment to the sanctity of the vote” and “serve as a call to harassment … during and after the election.”
Here is an excerpt from the letter:
“Our democracy is based on two fundamental principles – that the right to vote is sacred and that the outcome of free, fair elections must be respected. We hope that these ideals carry the day on November 3 and the days that follow. We urge Governor Lee to seize this opportunity to lead by making a strong public statement that deters any potential for voter intimidation and guarantees protection of the voting process and Tennesseans’ safety during and following the election. Our rights depend on it.”
A copy of the letter sent today can be found at: https://www.aclu-tn.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Coalition_Lee_Letter_Final.pdf
This statement can be found online at: https://www.aclu-tn.org/civil-rights-groups-urge-governor-lee-to-take-stand-to-prevent-voter-intimidation
2 years ago
Nashvillians are lined up when polls open
By the time early vote ended in Tennessee Thursday, more than half the state’s registered voters had already voted in the 2020 presidential race, an astonishing figure in a state that ranks 49th in the country for voter turnout.
Expanded access to absentee and mail-in ballots will push the number higher, but other states are seeing similar rises in voting. Whether Tennessee moves out of the penultimate place for voter turnout remains to be seen.
But when photographer Ray Di Pietro went to the Downtown Branch of the Nashville Public Library at 7 a.m., a line of voters had already formed. In a series of photos, he captured the early risers who waited until Election Day to cast their vote in what is considered to be a historic election.
Last updated: 11:31 am
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