The ads and the campaign speeches for the hotly contested 2022 Mid-Term elections have ended. In Johnson County the polls have closed, and not surprisingly, Republicans had a very good night. Voters made their choices for Governor, and the House of Representatives. They have made their voices heard on a spate of ballot measures to amend the Tennessee constitution, and have selected their representatives for the Tennessee General Assembly in Nashville.
Close to home, Mountain City voters have selected Jason Bryan and Lawrence Keeble as city Aldermen. Bryan, was elated to win, and thanked Mountain City voters and expressed eagerness to be a leader for the city. Keeble, who has served the city for 25 years, suggested this might be his last term, but was determined to tackle some of the thorniest issues facing the city, including a new water supply to keep up with demand as the population increases.
Republican Scotty Campbell, running unopposed, has not surprisingly been re-elected to represent Johnson County in the state House of Representatives.
Redistricting resulted in Johnson County being bumped from District 1 to District 3, losing popular Senator Jon Lundberg, and picking up Republican Rusty Crowe who faced a challenge from Kate Craig, the former chair of the Washington County Democratic Party. Her campaign focusing on Crowe’s role in shaping the Ballad healthcare monopoly did not sway voters sufficiently. By a margin of 85% to 15% Johnson County voters will send the 75-year-old Crowe back to the State Senate for his 33rd year.
Diana Harshbarger, the incumbent Republican representative for Tennessee District One in the U.S. House of Representatives was challenged by Democrat Cameron Parsons from Kingsport, as well as a couple of independent candidates. Parson’s failure to mount an energetic challenge resulted in Harshbarger’s 85% victory in Johnson County. These results were mirrored district wide, and Harshbarger handily picked up a second term.
Incumbent Republican governor Bill Lee did very well in Johnson County, defeating Democratic challenger Jason Martin and a slew of independent candidates by an 85% margin. Martin campaigned on the economic benefits of expanding health care and legalizing cannabis, but statewide, Lee, as expected, was re-elected for another four years by close to a 70% margin.
Three amendments to the Tennessee Constitution were also on the ballot. The first amendment which adds language to the constitution to ban employers from requiring union membership among employees passed 75% to 25% and statewide with similar margins. Amendment two is a parliamentary amendment which establishes the line of succession should the Governor be incapacitated. A widely bi-partisan amendment, it passed 72% to 28%. Amendment three adds language to the long standing section of the Tennessee Constitution which banned slavery to now exclude prison inmates from that ban. A deeply controversial amendment, it nonetheless passed 75% to 25%, and statewide with even higher margins. Amendment four eliminates the prohibition of ministers and priests from holding office. Interestingly, at 65% to 35%, this faith based amendment passed handily, but with the tightest margin.
Harold Thornquest, the chair of the Johnson County Democratic Party, reflecting on his party’s losses tonight felt that both Kate Craig and Jason Martin worked hard and ran good campaigns, but that voters just didn’t turn out in the county as he had hoped. “Bottom line, we’ve got to get our base out,” he said.
The Johnson County Republican Party had no comment on the election at the time of the writing of this story.
The clatter and clamor of the election cycle will continue beyond tonight in the rest of the country as hotly contested races affecting the nation are finalized, but here in Johnson County it is growing quiet at the election office, where the democratic process played out in the neighborly Appalachian style we’d expect.