Ogles rolls past Campbell in revamped 5th Congressional District

By: and - November 8, 2022 11:44 pm
Former Maury County mayor Andy Ogles celebrates with his family at Puckett's Grocery in Columbia after he was declared the winner in the race for U.S. House District 5. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Former Maury County mayor Andy Ogles celebrates with his family at Puckett’s Grocery in Columbia after he was declared the winner in the race for U.S. House District 5. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Fresh from a bruising Republican primary, former Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles cruised to victory Tuesday over Democratic state Sen. Heidi Campbell in the newly-drawn 5th Congressional District.

The win for Ogles means for the first time in modern history, Davidson County will not have a Democratic congressman. The shift comes after the GOP-controlled Legislature split Davidson County into three congressional districts, making it easier for a Republican to win an eighth of nine seats in Tennessee.

Former state director of Americans for Prosperity, Ogles captured just over 118,000 votes, 56% to Campbell’s 41%, or 89,000 votes – unofficial results posted by state election officials by 11 p.m. on Tuesday – to win a first term in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Pledging to fire U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and to fire newly hired IRS agents – then offer them jobs at the border – Ogles said he would fight to “take our country back,” during a victory party at Puckett’s Restaurant in downtown Columbia.

“It’s a little surreal,” Ogles said following his victory speech in a brief huddle with reporters. “We started this long, hard fight several months ago, and obviously you hoped you would come to this moment. But it’s exciting, and the real work is now. The campaign was hard. The road ahead is going to be even harder. This economy is a mess. Immigration – our borders – is a mess and we’ve got to fix that.”

Ogles, who claimed the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, stayed under the radar until the final two weeks of the general election campaign after defeating former House Speaker Beth Harwell and National Guard Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead in the Republican primary. Ogles benefited from super PACs that spent heavily criticizing Harwell in that race.

Andy Ogles hugs a supporter during his Election Night party at Puckett’s Grocery in Columbia, Tenn., Nov. 8. 2022. (Photo: John Partipilo)

He refused to speak to most media, choosing instead to interview with an ultra-conservative radio broadcaster, and spent most of his time raising funds, even though Campbell brought in more money than he did in the months before the vote.

Ogles campaigned against the policies of President Joe Biden, at one point early in his campaign using a flamethrower to say he would use it to burn up Biden’s work.

Campbell, whose husband was diagnosed with colon cancer two weeks ago, accused Ogles of pushing for a national abortion ban and deep cuts on Social Security and Medicare, two programs that most Americans depend on when they reach retirement age.

“This wasn’t the result we worked for, but we can’t grow cynical,” Campbell posted on Twitter after conceding defeat. “There are people who still believe in democracy and working together to solve big problems. The work continues tomorrow.”

The former Oak Hill mayor and music executive found herself campaigning in a red district, taking up the Democrats’ mantle after veteran U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper bowed out when the Republican-controlled Legislature redrew the 5th Congressional District, leaving only western and southern Davidson County with portions of Wilson, Williamson, Maury, Marshall and Lewis counties.

Ogles raised $987,000, including a $320,000 loan, and spent $573,178, according to the latest federal report. Campbell brought in more than $1 million without the use of loans and spent nearly $679,000, including TV advertising.

Democrats contend the gerrymandering created the situation in Nashville in which the Davidson County Election Commission botched nearly 1,000 people’s voting ballots by putting them in the wrong congressional or state House and Senate districts because of split precincts. Officials said Davidson County’s geographical information system inadvertently made errors using maps from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office and put people in the incorrect districts.

Only a last-minute court-ordered agreement between the Tennessee League of Women Voters and the state enabled the Tuesday vote to proceed.

The 438 Davidson County voters who used incorrect ballots were to be allowed to use corrected ballots on Tuesday, but they had to go to the Davidson County Election Office on Murfreesboro Pike to fill out a provisional ballot.

Those ballots were to be counted only in the case of a contested election ordered by a judge.

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Sam Stockard
Sam Stockard

Sam Stockard is a veteran Tennessee reporter and editor, having written for the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, where he served as lead editor when the paper won an award for being the state's best Sunday newspaper two years in a row. He has led the Capitol Hill bureau for The Daily Memphian. His awards include Best Single Editorial from the Tennessee Press Association.

Anita Wadhwani
Anita Wadhwani

Anita Wadhwani is a senior reporter for the Tennessee Lookout. The Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media (TAPME) named her Journalist of the Year in 2019 as well as giving her the Malcolm Law Award for Investigative Journalism. Wadhwani is formerly an investigative reporter with The Tennessean who focused on the impact of public policies on the people and places across Tennessee. She is a graduate of Columbia University in New York and the University of California at Berkeley School of Journalism. Wadhwani lives in Nashville with her partner and two children.