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VOL. 127 | NO. 47 | Thursday, March 8, 2012

GOP Politics Resemble 2008 In Tennessee

By Bill Dries

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This time around, leaders of the Tennessee Republican Party were convinced their choice in the Republican presidential contest would be a match with voters in the state’s presidential primary.

Four years ago, when former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee carried Shelby County and took the state, the party argued convincingly that the state’s second choice for the nomination – former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney – was a victim of the move of the Super Tuesday primaries to February.

“Florida was the weekend before Super Tuesday,” said Tennessee Economic Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty, who worked on Romney’s national campaign committee in 2008 and again this campaign season. “We’ve got an organizational leader in every major county across the state.”

But voters in the GOP primary again chose a candidate who centered his campaign on being a conservative on social concerns as opposed to stressing economic issues.

Like Huckabee four years ago, the 2012 primary winner – former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum – stopped at Bellevue Baptist Church the Sunday before the primary as well as Corky’s Ribs & BBQ Memphis.

Less than an hour after the polls closed in Shelby County, Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney was congratulating Santorum on taking the state.

“We have seen a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and excitement statewide for this primary,” Devaney added. “Tennesseans spoke loud and clear tonight that they are ready to make President Obama a one-term president.”

Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester, meanwhile, focused on Romney’s loss and never mentioned Santorum.

Forrester described Romney as “out of touch.”

But Forrester accused Romney of “constant pandering to an extreme far-right agenda” as Santorum supporters in Tennessee and elsewhere have argued Romney isn’t conservative enough to be the party’s nominee.

Overall, 72,100 of the county’s 611,000 registered voters voted early or on election day for an 11 percent voter turnout.

The 48,842 Republican voters reflected the state verdict on the GOP presidential race.

With all 236 precincts reporting the unofficial vote totals for Shelby County were:

Santorum 18,260 (37 percent)

Romney 16,698 (34 percent)

Newt Gingrich 9,393 (19 percent)

Ron Paul 3,838 (8 percent)

President Barack Obama, running unopposed in the Democratic presidential primary, garnered 23,264 votes in Shelby County.

Santorum’s success was mirrored in the statewide numbers – 37 percent. However, at the statewide level, Romney walked away with 6 percent fewer votes and Gingrich picked up 5 percent more.

Santorum 204,333 (37 percent)

Romney 153,372 (28 percent)

Gingrich 132,017 (24 percent)

Paul 49,740 (9 percent)

Obama’s statewide vote total was 78,979.

Each party had one close race in the set of four local primaries on the ballot in Shelby County this week.

Incumbent but suspended General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson finished third in a Democratic primary battle for the clerk’s office. That race – the closest contest of the night – was won by interim clerk Ed Stanton over Shelby County Commission Chairman Sidney Chism.

Stanton beat Chism by less than 300 votes. The General Sessions Court judges suspended Jackson following his indictment on official misconduct charges last year. Stanton was appointed his interim replacement.

The unofficial vote totals for the Democratic General Sessions Court clerk candidate are:

Stanton 8,422 (37 percent)

Chism 8,177 (36 percent)

Jackson 3,390 (15 percent)

Karen Woodward 1,430 (6 percent)

Marion Brewer 1,352 (6 percent)

Stanton faces Rick Rout in the August county general election. Rout, the son of former Shelby County Mayor Jim Rout, defeated James Finney in the GOP primary.

The unofficial vote totals are:

Rout 19,429 (55 percent)

Finney 15,463 (44 percent)

Meanwhile, Basar won the GOP primary for the Shelby County Commission District 1 Position 3 seat vacated last year by Republican Mike Carpenter. Basar beat Loeffel to advance to the August county general election where he will face Democrat Steve Ross, who ran unopposed in the companion Democratic primary for the seat.

The unofficial vote totals are:

Basar 7,484 (51 percent)

Loeffel 7,182 (49 percent)

Tim Walton won the right to challenge Democratic incumbent County Property Assessor Cheyenne Johnson in the August county general election by winning the GOP primary over Randy Lawson and John Bogan.

The unofficial vote totals are:

Walton 12,644 (38 percent)

Lawson 10,580 (32 percent)

Bogan 9,493 (29 percent)

Johnson had little trouble beating challenger Steve Webster in the Democratic primary.

The unofficial vote totals are:

Johnson 16,916 (81 percent)

Webster 4,032 (19 percent)

In the primary races for Shelby County district attorney general, Republican incumbent Amy Weirich and Democratic challenger Carol Chumney each ran unopposed to advance to a showdown on the August county general election ballot.

PROPERTY SALES 62 288 2,619
MORTGAGES 52 197 1,783