NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The race to take over long-term Democrat Jim Cooper’s seat in Congress has been nothing but fraught the last few months. Even so, Andy Ogles is winning by a 3,000 vote margin with 51% of precincts reporting.
"You know there's a lot at stake with this race, so it's a pickup for Republicans," Ogles said at his party in Franklin. "It hadn't been held by Republicans since Reconstruction so you know there's a power struggle there between the more establishment part of the party, versus the more conservative wing of the party which was supporting me. It would appear at this point the conservative wing. We've got the edge, but time will tell."
Not only did the district change, but it attracted millions of dollars poured into the race for the Republican primary. The winner will face state Sen. Heidi Campbell, D-Nashville. She faced no competition in the Democratic primary.
The new District 5 takes shape with six counties: south Davidson, east Williamson, west Wilson, pieces of Lewis, parts of Maury and a slice of Marshall County.
In total, more than a dozen candidates filled out paperwork to appear on the Republican primary ballot. Three of those candidates were booted off the ballot by the Tennessee GOP.
Former Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, military standout Kurt Winstead and former Maury County mayor Andy Ogles have been the frontrunners of the Republican primary, at least in terms of campaign finances and critical television ads of other opponents.
Winstead sunk $1.14 million of his money into the race, according to Federal Election Commission reports. Harwell invested $150,000 of her own funds, with Ogles spending $320,000 of his personal dollars, reports show.
Additionally, outside political action committees have funded advertisements that candidates in a negative light. The Conservative Americans PAC and Tennessee Conservatives PAC both funded ads about Ogles. The Tennessee Conservatives PAC is primarily funded by Larry Ellison, who is a billionaire co-founder of Oracle.
Two different PACs have aired negative ads about Harwell, including School Freedom Fund and USA Freedom Fund. School Freedom Fund is primarily used from the pocketbook of Jeff Yass, a billionaire co-founder of Susquehanna International Group. The USA Freedom Fund uses money from Richard Uihlein — the co-founder of Uline — and Bernard Marcus — billionaire co-founder of The Home Depot.