VOL. 129 | NO. 154 | Friday, August 8, 2014
Cohen Prevails, Incumbents Dominate
By Bill Dries
Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen held off Thursday, Aug. 7, the most serious electoral challenge he’s faced since winning the Congressional seat in 2006, in the form of attorney Ricky E. Wilkins.
Cohen won the primary with a decisive two-to-one margin to advance to the general election against Republican Charlotte Bergmann on the November general election ballot.
With all 174 precincts reporting the unofficial vote totals were:
Cohen 45,366 or 66 percent
Wilkins 22,311 or 33 percent
Isaac Richmond 872 or 1 percent
Meanwhile, Republicans kept intact their shut-out of Democrats in every countywide race on the
2010 ballot and added District Attorney General to the string.
Republican incumbent Amy Weirich, appointed to the job by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam in 2011, won a special election in 2012 and on Thursday’s ballot decisively defeated former Criminal Court Judge Joe Brown to win a full eight-year term of office.
With all 219 precincts reporting the totals were:
Weirich 94,248 or 65 percent
Brown 50,161 or 35 percent
The Shelby County turnout by the unofficial results was 27.01 percent of the county’s 537,066 voters. The turnout percentage is based on the 145,090 votes in the race for Shelby County mayor which had the largest turnout of any countywide race on the ballot followed by the 144,608 votes in the District Attorney General’s race and the 140,708 in the Juvenile Court Clerk’s race along with the 140,865 voters in the Sheriff’s race.
The 27 percent compares to 29 percent four years ago for many of the same races minus the judicial races that are on the ballot once every eight years.
In the last “big ballot” election, turnout was 25 percent.
Shelby County voters lined up with the statewide totals in the retention races for the three Tennessee Supreme Court Justices with 67 percent favoring retention countywide in each of the three races.
The justices campaigned across the state in response to a well-funded campaign led by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey urging voters to reject the justices retention.
Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Gordon Ball of Knoxville carried Shelby County in his statewide victory to challenge incumbent Republican Lamar Alexander on the November ballot.
Alexander had no problem carrying Shelby County over Tea Party backed challenger and state Representative Joe Carr and former Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn.
Incumbent Republican Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell beat Democratic challenger and former County Commissioner Deidre Malone to win a second and final term as the county’s chief executive.
With all 219 precincts reporting the totals were:
Luttrell 90,470 or 62 percent
Malone 52,376 or 36 percent
Charles Nelson 1,633 or 1 percent
Leo Awgowhat 549 or 0.3 percent
Incumbent Republican Sheriff Bill Oldham also won a second and final term as Sheriff by beating Democratic challenger Bennie Cobb, a retired division leader in the department.
With all precincts countywide reporting the results show:
Oldham 83,622 or 59 percent
Cobb 57,205 or 41 percent
Incumbent Democratic Assessor Cheyenne Johnson, whose office was not on the 2010 ballot won re-election Thursday over Republican challenger Keith Alexander.
With all precincts reporting, the results showed:
Johnson 77,782 or 56 percent
Alexander 57,002 or 41 percent
John C. Bogan 4,018 or 3 percent
The one countywide partisan office with no incumbent, Criminal Court Clerk was claimed by Republican nominee Richard DeSaussure, the chief administrator of the office, who beat Democratic nominee and Memphis City Council member Wanda Halbert.
With all 219 precincts reporting countywide the results were:
DeSaussure 73,484 or 53 percent
Halbert 65,588 or 47 percent
The one bright spot for Democrats was that retained their majority on the 13-member county commission at seven Democrats and six Republicans taking office Sept. 1. The new commission, elected from single-member districts, has seven new members making this the largest turnover on the 13-member body since seven new commissioners were elected in 2006.
Polls opened Thursday morning under cloudy skies with rain and lightning moving into the area shortly after noon.
And it didn’t take long for the political storm of the last two weeks involving endorsement ballots to follow the rain.
Attorneys for former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Sr. reportedly filed a court action during the day over the distribution of a “Harold Ford Sr. Ballot” that showed up at some election day polling sites.
Meanwhile, the state Senate seat held by a member of the Ford family since 1975 went to Memphis City Council member Lee Harris in the District 29 primary with Ophelia Ford finishing third behind Ricky Dixon. Harris faces Republican Jim Finney in the November general election in the only change to the Shelby County legislative delegation as a direct result of the election.
With all 52 precincts reporting the results were:
Harris 10,495 or 42.4 percent
Dixon 6,878 or 28 percent
Ford 6,750 or 27 percent
Herman Sawyer 610 or 2.4 percent
The other change to the legislative delegation to Nashville comes with the election of state Senator Jim Kyle as Judge in Chancery Court Part I. Kyle beat attorney Jim Newsom and starts his term of office on the bench Sept. 1 meaning the Shelby County Commission will appoint his replacement in Nashville.
With all 219 precincts reporting the unofficial totals were:
Kyle 59,199 or 47.4 percent
Newsom 40,474 or 32.4 percent
Paul A. Robinson Jr. 14,978 or 12 percent
Ken Besser 10,002 or 8 percent
Kyle claimed one of five judicial positions on the long ballot with no incumbent seeking re-election.
The other new judges elected Thursday are Felicia Corbin-Johnson, D’Army Bailey and Rhynette Northcross Hurd in Circuit Court. And Juvenile Court chief magistrate Dan Michael defeated Memphis City Court Judge Tarik Sugarmon in the open race for Juvenile Court Judge.
With all 219 precincts reporting the results were:
Michael 67,917 or 54 percent
Sugarmon 58,065 or 46 percent
Two incumbent General Sessions Court Judges lost re-election bids on Thursday’s ballot.
Attorney Gerald Skahan beat incumbent Division 9 judge Joyce Broffit and Ronald Lucchesi beat Division 12 incumbent Gwen Rooks.
With all 219 precincts reporting the unofficial results in the two races were as follows:
Skahan 43,331 or 36 percent
Broffitt 39,914 or 33 percent
Melissa Boyd 37,032 or 31 percent
Lucchesi 58,352 or 47 percent
Rooks 46,035 or 37 percent
Bryan A. Davis 19,566 or 16 percent
All 10 incumbent Criminal Court Judges were re-elected.
The new nine-member Shelby County Schools board that takes office Sept. 1 will have four new members to go with the five returning incumbents.
The district seats held by incumbents Kevin Woods and Teresa Jones were not on Thursday’s ballot in order to stagger the terms of school board members as required by state law.
The four new members include two familiar political names. Former Memphis City Council member Scott McCormick and former state Representative Mike Kernell were elected to the board. They join new members Miska Clay Bibbs who ran unopposed her first time out and Stephanie Love who beat Teddy King and Anthony Lockhart.
Incumbent board member Chris Caldwell won a rematch with former school board member Freda Garner-Williams to join incumbents Billy Orgel, who ran unopposed, and Shante Avant, who beat challenger Jimmy L. Warren.