The ink on election certificates has just dried for the winners from the November elections last year. It was a historic year for Republicans in Tennessee.
For the first time since the Civil War, the Republicans obtained majorities in both the State House of Representatives and the State Senate. For political junkies like myself, I am looking ahead to next year’s elections. If you thought that it got rough last year, you haven’t seen anything yet. Control of both chambers of the general assembly and county election commissions will be on the line. The other big prize to the winning party- the winning party gets to hold the pen when it comes to redistricting.
Next year’s elections loom large for both Republicans and Democrats. Every seat in the State House of Representatives will be up for election, and half of the State Senate. The party with the majority in each chamber will control committees that will decide important legislation, and install people in key positions in state government that will advance their political perspective.
Jointly, between the two chambers, Republicans’ control 69 seats, to the Democrats’ 63. After the historic victory by the Republicans last year, Republicans claimed two big prizes, the election of Republican Constitutional officers and control of every county election commission in Tennessee. You know, it’s funny to hear my Democrat friends grumble about how political the election commissions have gotten. I guess it was okay the past 30 years when they controlled them and the state election commission, but when the Republicans take over, it becomes political. hat type of hypocrisy is disingenuous to say the least.
Control of the state lgeislature not only is important with the county election commissions, but also for redistricting. Every 10 years, after the federal census, the Tennessee General Assembly redraws the legislative districts all across the state. That includes State Legislative and Congressional districts. For example, prior to 2002, Campbell County had two Republican State Representatives. They represented two different areas of the county. When the final redistricting plan was passed, the Democrats in Nashville combined the two representatives here in Campbell County, and eliminated one Republican member of the General Assembly.
Have you ever seen the fourth Congressional District on a map? It looks like an ‘S’. Counties in the fourth district border Virginia to the North and Mississippi and Alabama to the South. There are 22 counties in the fourth Congressional district. Once again, the fourth district is a classic example of Democrats in Nashville and Washington, D.C. clinging to power by gerrymandering districts to maintain control. Of course that blew up in the face of many Democrats when a young man named Van Hilleary beat the Democrats in 1994, and holding on to that seat until he ran for Governor in 2002.
With current projections, Republicans could safely pick up at least five seats in the State House because of the demographic changes, especially in the suburbs of Nashville. If Republicans are in control, one can assume that the redistricting will reflect that population increase. If Democrats are in charge, one can look for those increases to be downplayed, and a focus on increasing numbers in metro and urban areas. Either way, it’s safe to assume that redistricting alone will be a major catalyst for both political parties next year to recruit candidates who can win, raise significant sums of money, and maximize voter turnout.
With so much at stake with political races in the General Assembly, another big prize is the Governor’s Mansion. On the Republican side, it will come down to Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, Rep. Zach Wamp, and Bill Gibbons.
The Democrats may have to get Mike McWherter, son of former Gov. Ned McWherter. If that’s the case, the Democrats will be running a show horse, while the Republicans will have the work horse.
You can contact Josh Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org