by Jeff Woods
Update: Columbia's Ty Cobb and Harriman's Dennis Ferguson are the first state House Democratic incumbents to go down tonight. Both lost to women—Cobb to right-wing Christian author and motivational speaker Sheila Butt and Ferguson to Julia Hurley, an ex-Hooters’ waitress whose campaign probably took off like a rocket when this picture of her circulated in the district.
Update II: Republican David Alexander has beaten Democratic Rep. George Fraley of Winchester.
Update III: Another House Democrat loses: Cookeville's Henry Fincher has been defeated by the GOP's Ryan Williams. “The president poisoned the well,” the always quotable Fincher says. “State-wide people just aren’t voting for Democrats.”
Update IV: Don Miller has defeated Larry Mullins to give Republicans another House seat—the one vacated by Democrat Rep. John Litz.
Update V: Seven more Democrats appear to have lost in the House—Les Winningham, Butch Borchert, Judy Barker, Mark Maddox, Eddie Yokley, Jim Hackworth and Stratton Bone. Republicans now have gained a whopping 12 seats. That would give the GOP an invulnerable 62-seat majority.
Update VI: The GOP gains two more seats—Sam Coleman has conceded to Jim Gotto in the race to succeed Ben West in the state House from Hermitage. And Murfreesboro's Kent Coleman has lost to Mike Sparks.
Update VII: In a big surprise, Doug Jackson has become the only Senate Democrat to lose. Champion of the guns-in-bars law, Jackson was the freakiest of all gun freaks in the legislature, but it didn't save him from the Republican wave.
Update VIII: GOP chairman Chris Devaney—"For the first time in modern history, Republicans are going to lead at every level of government in this state. This is truly a historic day and Republicans are honored that voters have put their trust in our party to lead Tennessee.
State House GOP leaders are predicting an even bigger-than-expected night for Republicans. "I think we will" do better than the two- or three-seat gain that many were predicting for Republicans in the state House, Rep. Beth Harwell says.
Retiring House GOP leader Jason Mumpower:
"It’s early but we’re very excited. … We have Republican House candidates who are leading many House races at this point in time. … We knew from polling that we were going to have probably a good night tonight. But I will tell you that I don’t know that we anticipated just how good a night. We have some races right now where it’s early but Democratic incumbents are down right now in early voting numbers. We think that could be a sign of things to come. We’re optimistic."
"That’s never happened. Not one time before in history. It will be a history-making experience. Never before has the Senate, House and governorship been in Republican hands."
"Tennesseans and citizens across this country are fed up with Obama-style politics, the radical government spending. They are saying reign in government spending. … Voters are angry and I think they have expressed themselves today."
"This is a history-making night for the state of Tennessee," Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn says. "For the first time, we’re going to see what will happen when we have Republican control in the governor, lieutenant governor, the legislative bodies. And I don’t know about you, but I think Tennessee is gong to show the country how to lead the way back to economic health and jobs."