Leatherwood Fills Republican Vacancy in State House Race

By Bill Dries

Outgoing Shelby County Register Tom Leatherwood was picked Monday, Aug. 6, as the Republican nominee for State House District 99 in the Nov. 6 general election. The decision by party leaders followed the July death of incumben Republican state Rep. Ron Lollar. (Daily News/Bill Dries)

Outgoing Shelby County Register Tom Leatherwood is the Republican nominee for the state House seat held by the late Ron Lollar.

Leatherwood was named the party’s nominee for the Nov. 6 general election for state House District 99 Monday, Aug. 6, in a decision by three members of the Shelby County Republican Party’s steering committee who live in the district.

Lollar died suddenly less than a month before the August state legislative primaries. He was running unopposed in the Republican primary for a seventh term to the district covering northeast Shelby County.

By state law only those steering committee members who live in the House district could vote on a candidate to replace Lollar on the ballot as the Republican nominee.

“This is new to all of us,” Shelby County Republican Party chairman Lee Mills said at the outset of the meeting. “So it’s a little awkward. I don’t believe we’ve ever done this before.”

Mills and his wife, county commissioner-elect Amber Mills, both recused themselves because Lee Mills was the other contender for the nomination. That left the three-member panel that met privately to hear from Leatherwood and Mills and then deliberate for more than a half-hour before announcing its decision.

Leatherwood becomes the nominee days after he lost a bid on the August ballot to be elected Circuit Court Clerk. Leatherwood is in the last weeks of his four-year term as Register of Deeds. Before being elected Register in 2000, Leatherwood served two four-year terms in the state Senate from 1992 to 2000.

Leatherwood faces Democratic nominee Dave Cambron in the predominantly Republican district on the Nov. 6 ballot. Cambron ran unopposed in the August primaries as Democrats fielded contenders in every state House and state Senate race in Shelby County this election year.

Cambron was among those in the audience as the Republican steering committee met.