NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Republican lawmakers were poised to maintain majority control inside the state's General Assembly after Tuesday's elections.
All 99 House seats and 17 of the Senate's 33 seats were on the ballot.
Republicans control every top statewide elected position, with Democrats having strongholds in Nashville and Memphis. That means the primary election is largely considered the most competitive hurdle to securing a seat inside the General Assembly. For example, there were just 10 contested races in the Senate and 45 contested races in the House.
Senate Speaker Randy McNally ran unopposed, while House Speaker Cameron Sexton went on to easily defeat his Democratic challenger Tuesday. The two are expected to maintain their powerfully influential positions in the upcoming legislative session that starts in January. It also means Democrats will continue having a difficult time advancing their legislative proposals, particularly issues touching on abortion, gun control and cannabis legalization.
Notably, 26-year-old Justin Jones, a Black activist known for holding demonstrations at the Capitol, was elected Tuesday to a House seat for a Nashville district after running unopposed in the general election. Jones was temporarily banned from the Capitol in 2019 after throwing a cup of liquid at former House Speaker Glen Casada and other lawmakers while protesting the bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest inside the Capitol.
Meanwhile, long-serving state Rep. John Mark Windle lost his reelection attempt against Republican Ed Butler. Windle filed to run as an independent after previously being a registered Democrat for almost three decades.
Voters also selected Democratic Rep. Barbara Cooper, who died earlier this year but could not be removed from the ballot because it was too close to the election. Under Tennessee law, a special election will be held to fill the vacant seat in Memphis.