As recently as last week, Republican chairman Chip Saltsman confidently predicted that the Republicans would pick up two seats in the Senate and take control over that legislative body. However, Republicans pick up no seats in the Senate and lost badly in many elections where the party had run hard.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party had a net loss of one seat in the House and retains a 58-41 majority there. The only two Democratic incumbents to lose were Rep. Mary Ann Eckles of Murfreesboro and Rep. Arnold Stulce of Soddy Daisy.
And in a closely-watched race, Rep. Matt Kisber of Jackson, the chairman of the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee, defeated Republican challenger Jimmy Elridge 52 to 48 percent. That race had been expected to be close because the boundary lines of the 73rd House District had been redrawn to include far more Republicans than before.
The legislative races come as a major disappointment to the Republican Party, which targeted seven Senate seats this year and in many cases funded harsh attack ads related to the idea of a state income tax (even though that income tax was proposed by a Republican governor.) However, it should be pointed out that virtually every Democratic incumbent outspent his or her Republican challenger.
Among the highlights in the Senate:
* Lieutenant Governor John Wilder of Somerville won over challenger Bob Shutt 55 to 45 percent, defeating his first Republican challenger in 20 years. Mr. Wilder had originally not expected to have a Republican challenger, but that changed when Mr. Shutt got enough write-in ballots in the primary to make the ticket. With the victory, Mr. Wilder is almost certain to be re-elected to be Lieutenant Governor again in January.
* In Murfreesboro, Democrat Larry Trail defeated Republican Howard Wall 55 percent to 45 percent to win the race for Senate District 16, previously held by Andy Womack. The Republicans had banked on winning this seat.
* Democratic House member Doug Jackson of Dickson defeated Republican Bonnie Butler of Parsons 55 percent to 45 percent. Mr. Jackson will now take the seat once occupied by the late Pete Springer, who died last year.
* Democrat Jo Ann Graves of Gallatin won handily over challenger Ferrell Haile 58-40 percent. Like many other Republicans, Mr. Haile had campaigned hard with commercials that claimed that Ms. Graves did not oppose a state income tax.
* Despite his open endorsement of a state income tax, Democrat Ward Crutchfield of Chattanooga was reelected 62 to 36 percent.
* Other incumbent winners in the Senate included Rosalyn Kurita, Lincoln Davis, Jim Kyle, Ben Atchley, Steve Cohen and Ron Ramsey.
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