Thursday, May 8, 2014
On May 6, 2014, the Rutherford County Republican Party held their primaries for the upcoming general election on Aug. 7, 2014. There were 58 Republican candidates vying for 37 positions. According to the County Party, this is the largest number of qualified candidates for the GOP primary in County history.
The race had a number of highlights, interesting outcomes and some controversies. Of course, in any local election things tend to be more colorful than on the federal level - regardless of party or position.
Here are some of the highlights:
1. There were 19 incumbents who won their primaries and 18 new candidates who won. Of the winners, 20 ran unopposed.
2. Gerald Melton (incumbent) won his primary despite having his credentials challenged and fierce competition.
3. Joe Frank Jernigan (incumbent) won his primary even though he has been caught up in a scandal involving stealing campaign signs.
4. Phil Griffin, a Mississippi native and campaign strategist, lost his bid to be Commissioner in Dist. 7 to Michael Kusch (also a new candidate) by over 17%. To my knowledge, only one of Griffin's several clients managed a victory - Sheriff Robert Arnold.
5. Sheriff Robert Arnold did win the primary 59.84% to 39.5%. However, his office has been plagued with controversy and he will be in for a tough general election.
6. Melissa Harrell narrowly beat incumbent Laura Bohling for Circuit Court Clerk is a three-way, hotly contested race. Each candidate pulled over 30% with Melissa winning 37.71%.
General voter totals:
In all, 15,074 people turned out to vote in the primary with a reported voter turnout percentage of 2.13%, however, this figure is likely to be wrong. According to County records, as of May 2013 there were 122,724 registered voters in the County. The number of registered voters is roughly 44% of the entire County population, so for 2014 there would be approx. 128,000 voters. Based solely on those numbers, the real voter turnout is more likely to be ~11.8%.
In the same 2013 period, there were 38,226 registered Republicans in the County (or 31.1% of all registered voters). Of course, this primary was open which means anyone could vote in it, however, the same could be said for previous primaries which makes me think the 38,226 figure is fairly accurate. If we adjust for 2014, there should be around 39,800 registered Republicans in the County; so then 37.87% of Republicans voted in this year's primary.
The largest race was for County Mayor with 14,510 votes cast and the smallest was for Dist. 1 Commissioner with only 113 votes cast for that position. The largest Commissioner primary was for Dist. 2 with 1,441 votes.
Based on averaging the percentages below, voter turnout is closer to 10.9% than 2.13%, and that is pretty close to the estimate I calculated above.
The total number of votes* for each district are: D1 - 132 votes (2.13% turnout), D2 - 1,486 (22.85%), D3 - 669 votes (10.36%), D4 - 966 votes (14.4%), D5 - 260 votes (4.1%), D6 - 1,030 votes (13.2%), D7 - 714 votes (8.95%), D8 - 1,004 votes (12.43%), D9 - 604 votes (15.16%), D10 - 501 votes (6.9%), D11- 493 votes (7.31%), D12 - 301 votes (5.35%), D13 - 573 votes (7.91%), D14 - 1,646 votes (18.82%), D15 - 1,099 (19.91%), D16 - 703 votes (9.76%), D17 - 315 votes (12.41%), D18 - 597 votes (9.15%), D19 - 526 votes (7.76%), D20 - 715 votes (8.33%), D21 - 739 votes (10.82%).
*This number includes votes for all offices which is why it's higher than the number of votes for just the respective Commissioner's primary. Vote counts and percentages come from the Election Commission.
Below are the names of those nominees that will represent the GOP in the upcoming general election. Incumbent victory in bold.
Circuit Court Judge 16th Div I – Jeffery L. Peach - unopposed, won 99.51% out of 9,975 votes
Circuit Court Judge 16th Div II – Nathan Nichols - unopposed, won 99.63% out of 9,263 votes
Circuit Court Judge 16th Div III – Keith Siskin - unopposed, won 99.77% out of 10,065 votes
Chancellor 16th Judicial D – Howard W. Wilson - unopposed, won 99.7% out of 10,061 votes
Dist Atty Generl 16th Dist – Jennings H. Jones - won 62.21% out of 12,616 votes
Public Defender 16th Dist – Gerald L. Melton - won 51.5% out of 11,929 votes
County Mayor – Ernest G. Burgess - won 57.86% out of 14,510 votes
County Commission Dist 01 – Doug Shafer - unopposed, won 94.69% out of 113 votes
County Commission Dist 02 – Steve Pearcy - won 59.54% out of 1,441 votes
County Commission Dist 03 – Will Jordan - unopposed, won 99.4% out of 504 votes
County Commission Dist 04 – Jon Jaques - unopposed, won 99.32% out of 587 votes
County Commission Dist 05 – Carol Cook - unopposed, won 99.51% out of 204 votes
County Commission Dist 06 – Joe Frank Jernigan - won 53.77% out of 967 votes
County Commission Dist 07 – Michael Kusch - won 51.26% out of 595 votes
County Commission Dist 08 – Edward Phillips - unopposed, won 95.1% out of 633 votes
County Commission Dist 09 – Joe A. Gourley - won 67.52% out of 508 votes
County Commission Dist 10 – Brad Turner - won 69% out of 458 votes
County Commission Dist 11 – Rhonda Allen - won 60.17% votes out of 462 votes
County Commission Dist 12 – Robert Stevens - unopposed, won 99.56% out of 226 votes
County Commission Dist 13 – Paul Johnson - unopposed, won 99.52% out of 414 votes
County Commission Dist 14 – Charles Baum - unopposed, won 99.56% out of 1,137 votes
County Commission Dist 15 – David Nipper - won 54.62% out of 844 votes
County Commission Dist 16 – Phillip Sugg Dodd - won 58.91% out of 606 votes
County Commission Dist 17 – Jeff Phillips - won 83.75% out of 277 votes
County Commission Dist 18 – Allen McAdoo - unopposed, won 98.75% out of 401 votes
County Commission Dist 19 – Shawn Kaplan - unopposed, won 98.86% out of 352 votes
County Commission Dist 20 – Trey Gooch - unopposed, won 99.2% out of 499
County Commission Dist 21 – Patsy L. Briley - unopposed, won 98.95% out of 475 votes
County Trustee – Teb Batey - unopposed, won 99.81 out of 11,835 votes
General Sessions Judge Part I – Kevin Hodges - won 50.93% out of 10,170 votes
General Sessions Judge Part II – Barry Tidwell - 38.72% out of 10,597 votes
General Sessions Judge Part III – Toby Gilley - unopposed, won 99.7% out of 10,563 votes
Juvenile Court Judge – Donna Scott Davenport - unopposed, won 99.76% out of 11,384 votes
Sheriff – Robert Arnold - won 59.84% out of 14,011 votes
Circuit Court Clerk – Melissa Harrell - won 37.71% out of 12,785 votes
County Clerk – Lisa Duke Crowell - unopposed, won 99.73% out of 10,901 votes
Register of Deeds – Heather Dawbarn - won 45.27% out of 12,835 votes
To see detailed results, visit the Rutherford County Election Commission's report on the primary.
--Jacob Bogle, May 8, 2014 (visit me on Facebook at Facebook.com/JacobBogle)