Taylor win in Shelby County keeps Senate District 31 red

By: - November 9, 2022 1:57 pm
(Photo: Brent Taylor for Senate)

(Photo: Brent Taylor for Senate)

Republican Brent Taylor overwhelmingly defeated Democrat Ruby Powell-Dennis for the State Senate District 31 seat and will now replace Sen. Brian Kelsey, who did not seek reelection and is pleading guilty to campaign finance charges.

On Tuesday night, Taylor defeated Powell-Dennis with a 32% lead, which he attributed in part to the redistricting of District 31. 

“The district is about 60% Republican and I got 66% (of the vote), so I outperformed the district,” he said, attributing his success to bipartisan support gained from his combined experiences.  

During his campaign, Taylor, who owns and operates a funeral home business, touted both his business and political experiences. He said he has earned respect from voters who “trusted me with the death of a loved one” and politicians. 

A native of northern Mississippi near Memphis, Taylor’s political career began in 1995 after he was elected onto the Memphis City Council. He served on the Shelby County Commission and was the Chairman of the Election Commission until his resignation in February to run for the senate seat. Taylor sold his funeral business in January and holds a consulting agreement with the new owners. 

Taylor received bipartisan support for his campaign, including from Republicans U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and a host of state representatives. Democratic Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland also endorsed Taylor.

In 2018, Kelsey narrowly won against Democrat challenger Gabby Salinas with only a 1.8% margin of victory.. After Republican-controlled redistricting, District 31 now encompasses East Shelby County and East Memphis,  which includesCollierville , Eads, Germantown, Lakeland, parts of Arlington and Cordova. 

Following his election win, Taylor plans to push for policies cracking down on crime in Shelby County and Memphis, which gained nationwide attention in September for a series of violent crimes. 

“We need to strengthen “truth in sentencing.” We need to make sure juveniles that commit a violent crime are held accountable beyond age 19, that they serve sentences into adulthood,” he said. 

Taylor also seeks to combat Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy’s policies to de-prioritize specific crimes. 

“I will provide whatever resources he needs but I also want to be there to hold him accountable to prosecute every offense regardless of whether it’s a priority for him,” he said. 

Kelsey, who recently pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations tied to his failed run for Congress in 2016, announced in February he would not run for a fourth full term in the Senate.

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Dulce Torres Guzman
Dulce Torres Guzman

Dulce has written for the Nashville Scene and Crucero News. A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, she received the John Seigenthaler Award for Outstanding Graduate in Print Journalism in 2016. Torres Guzman is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She enjoys the outdoors and is passionate about preserving the environment and environmental issues.