Fentress Makes Primary Decision, Stage Set for State and Federal Races This Fall

By Jacob E. Rosenbaum

Primary elections for the Republican and Democratic parties were held in conjunction with the County General Election last Thursday, August 2nd, 2018. Although the County General election generally takes center stage locally, this year’s state and federal primary season has featured some of the most hotly contested races Tennessee has seen in several years.

In particular, the Republican contest for the Gubernatorial nomination was one of the most knock-down-drag-out electoral affairs in the entire country, and received national media attention at multiple intervals throughout the summer. U.S. Representative Diane Black, the current sitting congresswoman in Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District, (in which Fentress County resides) was widely regarded as the front runner throughout most of the primary, with businessman Randy Boyd considered to be the major threat, and TN Speaker of the House Beth Harwell and Bill Lee, another businessman polling in single digits early on. The month of July saw relentless political attack advertisements by Mrs. Black and Mr. Boyd, directed towards both each other, and towards Mr. Lee, who vocally protested such tactics and pledged to abstain from them.  In Fentress County, a total of 4,163 individuals cast their ballots in the GOP Governor race. Diane Black received a total of 1302, for 31.28% of the vote, Randy Boyd received 959 votes for 23.04% and Bill Lee received 1514 votes for 36.37%. Statewide, Bill Lee won the contest with 291,140 total votes (36.8%), Randy Boyd was the runner-up with 192,914 votes (24.4%), and Diane Black finishing third with a total of 182,296 votes, for 23%. Beth Harwell was a distant 4th, receiving 121,324 votes ( 15.3). lesser known candidates Kay White and Basil Marceaux Jr. received 3,212 (0.4%) and 1,267 (0.2%) respectively.

The Democratic Gubernatorial primary featured considerably fewer fireworks, and ended with Karl Dean, the former Mayor of Nashville, winning a landslide victory over State Senator Craig Fitzhugh and Mezianne Vale Payne, a political unknown. In Fentress County, a total of 768 citizens voted in the Democratic primary. Karl Dean received a total of 590 votes (76.82%) and Craig Fitzhugh received 105 votes for 13.67%. Mezianne Payne received 70 votes, for 9.11%. Statewide, Karl Dean received 279,324 votes (75.2%) Craig Fitzhugh received 72,263 (19.4%) and Mezianne Vale Payne received 20,253 (5.4%). Mr. Dean will square off with Bill Lee on November 6th, when he will attempt to become the first Democrat to win election to statewide office in nearly twelve years.

In the GOP Senate Primary, Marsha Blackburn carried Fentress County handily with 2934 votes (85.04%). She defeated Aaron Pettigrew who received 509 local votes or (14.75%). Statewide the results were very much the same, with Mrs. Blackburn receiving 610,883 total votes ,84.5%, and Pettigrew receiving 112,231 votes for 15.5%. If Mrs Blackburn is victorious in November she will be the first woman from Tennessee to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Read the rest of the story in  this week’s Fentress Courier.