NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Democrats have held Tennessee's 5th Congressional seat since Reconstruction. However, newly drawn district lines show that's likely to change.
Tennessee lawmakers redrew the districts for the 2022 midterm elections, based on the 2020 census. The GOP supermajority divided Jim Cooper's (D) seat into three parts, absorbing them into Republican majority districts. Cooper had held the Nashville-based seat since winning it in 2002.
On the Republican side, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles pulled out the win with 37% of the primary vote. He prevailed over former TN House Speaker Beth Harwell by 11 percentage points. His campaign leveraged strong support in Maury and Williamson counties, areas that were not part of the 5th before this election.
For the Democrats, state Senator Heidi Campbell ran unopposed. While her vote total of 30,711 bested Ogles' count by nearly 9,000 votes, the share of Republican primary voters in the district doesn't bode well for Democrats hopeful to hang on to this seat.
|CANDIDATE||TOTAL VOTES||% OF VOTES CAST|
|Total Republican Votes||57,672||65.2%|
Of course, it's not a given that every voter who participated in the primary will support Ogles in the general election. Tennessee has open primaries, meaning you don't have to be a member of a party to vote. Democrats are also likely to see some increased turnout in November as there were few competitive races in the Democratic primary, especially in Maury and Williamson counties. Those factors plus a contentious race among Republican candidates could have some voters feeling less enthusiastic about Ogles in November.
Newschannel5 Political Analyst Pat Nolan, however, says the numbers don't look good for Democrats.
"With Ogles getting 37% (in the primary), it's much less likely that the party will be divided in November. Beth Harwell is a longtime Republican official and knows how important gaining the seat will be for the national party." Pat said, expecting primary voters to fall in line behind Ogles.
Ogles and Campbell will face off November 8.