Several longtime Nashville judges upset in the May primary election

Judge Monte Watkins
Posted at 5:21 PM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 18:06:42-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — There were several familiar names that Nashville voters bumped from the bench in Tuesday's May primary race.

Longtime Judge Diane Turner was bested by Robin Kimbrough Hayes, who used to serve in the Tennessee Attorney General's office. Judge Kelvin Jones lost to Lynne Ingram of the Legal Aid Society. Jones was investigated by the TBI for hiding money from his ex-wife, following a NewsChannel 5 Investigation.

"In these Democratic primaries, clearly women are, they’re cleaning up, they’re doing a great job and they’re winning all of these seats, but you’re starting to see some of the younger women as well, having a big impact in the judicial system as getting elected to the bench," said NewsChannel 5 Legal Analyst Nick Leonardo.

The biggest upset of the night was Khadija Babb — a former Assistant DA and Defense Attorney — defeating 18-year incumbent Monte Watkins.

"He’s been elected three times by the people of this county, and he’s presided over a lot of high profile cases, and he served the citizens of Davidson County extremely well," said Leonardo.

With Babb's victory, it makes her the youngest to ever serve as a Criminal Court judge, and the first time in city history that all but one criminal court judge is female.

"You start to see a changing of the guard and younger folks taking the reins," said Leonardo.

Leonardo said upsets like these were possible, in part, because so few people voted in Tuesday's county primary.

"The low voter turnout, I think it makes it easier to reach the voters, and it’s easier to do that if you’re trying to reach 35,000 people than if you’re trying to reach 85,000 people," he said.

Leonardo said that makes the margins for a victory that much tighter, and the prospects for new candidates that much brighter. "It really kind of makes it anyone’s race," said Leonardo.

Only one Republican, Brian Horowitz, who is running for General Sessions Judge Division IX, qualified to be on the ballot.

The general election for that race, against Lynda Jones, will be held in August. All the other candidates will be sworn in September 1st.