10 sitting legislators unseated in primary fights

Mix includes controversial lawmakers, GOP Caucus loyalists and longtime Democrats

Normally at the end of the legislative session, lawmakers volunteering to step down from their seats of power in the General Assembly are showered with resolutions, farewells, and sometimes a swing or two of the speaker’s gavel on one of their final days.

But those who lost their elections Thursday won’t get that luxury.

In this week’s primary election, 10 state lawmakers were voted out of office by their constituents and replaced by someone else. Here's the breakdown:

Senate

• Sen. Stacey Campfield — A magnet for controversy, the Knoxville Republican was bested by Richard Briggs by more than a 2-to-1 margin. After a 10-year career in the legislature, Campfield promptly erased years worth of blog posts from his website, leaving it with a single post saying, “That was fun,” and attaching a video of Frank Sinatra singing, “My Way.”

• Sen. Ophelia Ford — The Memphis Democrat’s family has held a seat in the state Senate for 30 years, but that grip was lost Thursday when Ford came in third in her primary race, giving the party nomination to Lee Harris. While in a heavily Democratic district, the future of the seat will be decided in the November general election.

• Sen. Jim Summerville — Four years ago he was the underdog Republican candidate from Dickson, but this time Summerville was trounced in this year’s election going up against two with legislative bona fides. Kerry Roberts of Springfield, who served a short stint in the Senate replacing Diane Black when she was elected to the U.S. House, took the win by besting Rep. Joshua Evans by more than 1,000 votes. 

House

• Rep. Joe Carr — The Lascassas Republican opted to run for federal office this year but failed to take out U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander. By running, he gave up his House seat and told Pith he would not seek an appointment to the state Senate should a seat be available.

• Rep. Vance Dennis — The young and confident Savannah Republican and attorney won’t be returning to the legislature next year after David “Coach” Byrd beat him by more than 700 votes. Dennis was climbing the ladder in the GOP Caucus, serving as floor leader up until Thursday’s election.

• Rep. Joshua Evans — Seeing an opportunity to graduate to the upper chamber, the Greenbrier Republican gave up his house seat to run against Summerville, an incumbent who best made a name for himself by saying he doesn’t “give a rat's ass” about a report from the legislative Black Caucus.

• Rep. Tony Shipley — After a three-term career in the legislature, the far-East Tennessee Republican found himself a target in this year’s primary election. Before leaving at the end of the session, Shipley made the governor’s life difficult by refusing to budge on a set of pseudoephedrine limits. Bud Hulsey beat him by 20 percentage points.

• Rep. Steve Hall — The Knoxville Republican narrowly lost his race to Martin Daniel by 165 votes, cutting Hall’s tenure off at two legislative sessions.

• Rep. Gary Odom — The West Nashville Democrat lost his first re-election bid in nearly 30 years to a long-time political hopeful John Ray Clemmons, who won on with 54 percent of the vote. Odom ran a lax campaign, giving Clemmons the chance to define the incumbent as a good ole boy who has been in office too long.

• Rep. Dennis “Coach” Roach — Despite Gov. Bill Haslam and Speaker Beth Harwell’s collective PACs pouring more than $10,000 into his re-election bid, the Republican from Rutledge found himself beaten by more than 1,000 votes by Jerry Sexton.