Voters in five Tennessee counties head to the polls to elect a new state senator. A special election was held Tuesday, March 13 in District 14 which includes Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall, Moore, and part of Rutherford County.
The two names on the ballot were Republican businessman Shane Reeves and Democrat Gayle Jordan, an attorney.
In Murfreesboro, turnout was steady throughout the day at Sports Com off Memorial Boulevard. Lines stayed long throughout the day as election officials worked to get voters through the process quickly. Rutherford County Election Administrator Alan Farley said the day went smoothly, and no problems were reported.
Both Reeves and Jordan spent election day reaching out to supporters to encourage them to get to the polls. Supporters of both candidates were stationed outside the Sports Com polling location.
“Everybody knows a special election is all about getting out the votes,” said Reeves. “Since about five this morning, I have been emailing, calling and texting.”
“We are checking in with our volunteers at several polling places in each county,” said Jordan. “It’s been a compressed cycle. It’s bittersweet. You’re over it, but you hate to see it end.”
While on the campaign trail, both candidates shook hands throughout the large district and heard voters’ concerns about the opioid crisis, healthcare, transit and education.
“The priorities change in each county,” said Reeves. “The things people are dealing with in Rutherford County, like spending two hours going back and forth to Nashville is a big deal. If you’re down in Lincoln County they care more about workforce development, or creating jobs, or have education on their minds.”
The race did turn contentious when campaign mailers, online ads and social media posts targeted Jordan for being an atheist. She is the executive director of the non-profit organization Recovering from Religion.
“The party and my opponent have chosen just terrible mudslinging,” said Jordan in response to the ads. “We have continued to stay on point.”
Jim Tracy resigned from his seat after President Trump appointed him to a position at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Polls closed at 7 p.m.