State Sen. Raymond Finney is refusing to concede to challenger Doug Overbey after results show the incumbent losing to the State Representative in the District 8 Senate race.
Results show Overbey beating Finney, a one-term senator, 10,175 to 10,036. While Finney led Overbey 6,918 to 5,722 in Blount County, Overbey won in Sevier County, 4,453 to Finney's 3,118.
Thursday night, just past 10 p.m., Finney said he did not consider the election to be over.
“We’ll be weighing our options," Finney said. "We want a recount. We do not consider the election over. I’m not conceding.”
Republican party chair and Assistant County Mayor Dave Bennett said he was unsure of the process for a recount.
“I think since it is so close, the state will probably officially document what the votes were,” Bennett said. “I don’t know what the process is for a recount. I think when it is within 140 votes and covers two counties, the counties will be asked to make sure the count is right.”
Overbey said he wasn’t surprised by the senator’s comments.
“We’re comfortable with the results that were reported. It was kind par for the course on this campaign.
“I am honored and humbled by Sevier and Blount County made the decision to for a new start, a new opportunity,” Overbey said.
Overbey said his campaign saw the momentum continued to build this summer. “We saw more and more people come out to help,” he said.
Overbey praised his supporters and thanked his friends for going door-to-door and offering moral support. He also thanked his wife, Kay, “for pouring her full heart and soul” into his campaign.
Overbey said he is going to stay concerned with “improving school systems. Making sure our kids have jobs. Keeping the heating and cooling of our homes and the fuel cost in our cars as low as possible.”
As party chair, Bennett said he would reach out to both sides and try to bring healing.
“Obviously, there are winners and losers in a primary," Bennett said. "I’ll reach out to both candidates and try to facilitate the healing process. There are going to be hurt feelings on the losers’ side, and some people are going to be upset. I see my job as chair of the party is to provide the salve to heal those wounds,” he said.
In the general election Circuit Court Division II race between Democrat incumbent Judge Mike Meares and challenger, General Sessions Judge David Duggan, Duggan won by a margin of 9,582 to 6,451.
Meares encouraged his supporters minutes after he learned he lost. “Cheer up, let’s party. We’ve made a lot of good friends in the process,” he said. “Today was easy, the hard part is over. The low voter turn out was not to my benefit.”
Meares said he was proud of his supporters and hoped they would “focus on tomorrow and keep looking toward the future.”
After Duggan learned he won, he talked about the campaign and said he learned he enjoyed going door to door speaking with voters. He said that on the day before the election, he was in South Blount County and canvassing those neighborhoods brought back good memories from earlier times, especially Burch Street. “I spent many hours over there. I paused and took time and remember the past,” he said.
Duggan thanked his friends and supporters. “I could not have done everything without them here.”
The race had been marked by controversy as Meares challenged the Republican establishment and his counterpart, Division I Circuit Court Judge Dale Young. Meares held administrative hearings regarding Local Rules that attorneys followed and said Young had changed them without giving adequate public notice. Following hearings in May, he issued an order invalidating parts of the Local Rules.
Bennett said he wasn’t surprised by the contentiousness of the race. “I hated to see the way the other campaign started slinging mud. I don’t like that and it shows it didn’t work,” he said. “There’s been a lot of negative attention on the Republican Party and Judge Young. People saw through that and sent the right person to that seat. There has been a lot of mud-slinging at Judge Young. He’s a good man and didn’t deserve that.”
Bennett praised Duggan’s work ethic in the campaign. “We’re proud the people stood with us and put the right man in the right job.”
State House of Representatives
In the State House and State Senate Races, Bennett extended his good wishes to Commission Chair Bob Ramsey and State Rep. Doug Overbey. Ramsey won the seat Overbey vacated in his bid to unseat Finney.
“Congratulation to Bob Ramsey on his win to fill the vacancy Doug Overbey left, and congratulations to Doug Overbey on his win in the Senate race,” Bennett said. “I feel fortunate to get to work with both of them in their efforts in Nashville to help us continue to make Blount County the greatest place to live.”
State Supreme Court
In the State Court of Criminal Appeals election, voters gave “Yes” or “No” answers as to whether they wanted to reaffirm justices to the State Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and the Court of Criminal Appeals. In the Court of Criminal Appeals, Blount County native Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr. was reaffirmed in this county with more “Yes” votes and fewer “No” votes than any of the justices – 12,302 to 1,537.
Thomas said he appreciated the support and said this election was like no other he had ever run.
“There was nothing you could do but wait and hope people let you have the rest of your term. It’s not like any other campaign,” he said. “You had to wait and see what happened. Now I get to keep working.”
District 8 State Rep. Joe McCord had no competition in the primary or general election and said that in this climate where incumbents are often challenged, this was a good time to be uncontested.
McCord said he couldn’t take the position for granted. “You’re always in communications with your constituents,” he said.
McCord said he looked forward to working with Ramsey in the State House and thanked the candidates who ran in the District 20 State House race. “That exchange of ideas is good,” he said.
Shortly before 10 p.m., 26 more ballots were found in Blount County and added to the count. It didn’t change the outcome of any of the races, Elections Administrator Libby Breeding said.
The missing ballots were paper ballots from a precinct, and Breeding said it wasn’t unusual for some voters to choose paper. “You always have some who refuse to use the machine,” she said.
In the only other contested race in Blount County, unofficial vote totals showed a dozen votes deciding who would represent District 6 on the Blount County School Board.
Brad K. Long edging out Patricia Ann Bell for Blount County School Board, 6th District by 966 votes to 954. Incumbent William "Booty" Miller did not run for re-election.
With 52 of 52 precincts reporting in Blount County and all Precincts in Sevier, these are the unofficial results.
COUNTY GENERAL ELECTION
Circuit Court Judge Division II
Mike Meares (Dem): 6,451
David Reed Duggan (Rep): 9,582
STATE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY
Jim Bishop: Total: 977
Raymond Finney: Total: 10,036
(Blount: 6,918; Sevier: 3,118)
Doug Overbey: Total: 10,175
(Blount: 5,722; Sevier: 4,453)
Tennessee House 20th Representative District
Steve Hargis: 1,784
Jim Melton: 1,178
Tona Monroe-Ball: 1,056
Bob Ramsey: 3,170
School Board 6th District
Patricia Ann Bell: 954
Brad K. Long: 966