Bradley County’s Republican leaning was not taken lightly by Todd Gardenhire who depended on the conservative vote to offset the more liberal vote in Hamilton County to win the 10th State Senate District.
Republican lawmakers redrew the 10th District after the 2010 Census with the goal of wresting it from Democratic control. Unofficial results show their plan worked. Democrat Andrae McGary beat Gardenhire by a slim margin of votes by a count of 27,854 to 25,550 in Hamilton County. But Gardenhire easily erased that deficit with 10,245 votes to McGary’s 2,509 in Bradley County.
Gardenhire watched the election returns at Hopewell Elementary School with 22nd State Rep. Eric Watson. Gardenhire said after the election results were in that he closed out his campaign in Bradley County to show his appreciation and respect to the voters.
“This should show that Bradley County is very important to me,” he said. “I am overwhelmed by the support I have received from Bradley County in this election. I look forward to working with Sen. Mike Bell and Reps. Eric Watson and Kevin Brooks to give Bradley County and the city of Cleveland the clout it deserves.”
He is confident his years of experience in the business, civic and political arenas will be an asset for creating an atmosphere conducive to attracting and keeping businesses in this area.
“My increased emphasis on education, especially the idea of a technical school to train local young people to be prepared to go to work at our industries will pay huge dividends in the future,” he said.
The closest race of the evening in Bradley County was in the U.S. House 4th District where incumbent Dr. Scott DesJarlais won by nearly 2-to-1 over former state Sen. Eric Stewart, with a vote of 14,418 to 7,621.
The freshman congressman was locked in a fierce campaign battle that ended Monday in front of Hamilton County Circuit Court Judge Jacqueline Bolton.
DesJarlais, a freshman Republican whose re-election platform includes opposition to abortion rights, has been under fire since a different transcript from the 2001 divorce emerged last month that detailed a phone conversation in which he urged his girlfriend to get an abortion, according to The Associated Press.
The congressman, who is a physician, has contended he was only using strong language to get the woman to admit she was not pregnant, and that both he and his first wife dated other people while their divorce was being finalized, according to the AP.
“The voters have spoken,” Stewart said. “I'm proud of the campaign we ran. We talked about fighting for working families, keeping promises we made to our seniors about Medicare and Social Security, and giving our men and women in uniform the support they need and deserve. The fight for those things hasn't ended, even though my campaign for Congress has. Congress needs to stop fighting and start fixing. Working families depend on it.”
In two other local races, 24th District State Rep. Kevin Brooks was unopposed, but he still received 17,297 complimentary votes. He thanked his constituents for their prayers, the chance to serve and the vote of confidence.
"We are so pleased that our friends and neighbors have given us a huge vote of confidence to return to serve in Nashville," Brooks said in a prepared statement. "We are grateful for this vote of confidence and we are thankful that our family journey continues.
"Serving in Nashville is truly a tremendous honor and privilege. The chance to serve our friends, neighbors and families of Bradley County is the greatest opportunity ever afforded to our family and we humbly thank our supporters. We are keenly aware of the verse that reminds us, 'To whom much is given, much is required' and we bear that close to our hearts and minds."
Continuing, Brooks said, "Our family is thankful for the chance to serve, and at the same time, we realize the large tasks at hand immediately upon our return to Nashville. We must continue cutting taxes, we must continue reducing bureaucracy, and we must continue creating the environment for jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Watson said in his post-election statement that, “Voters know I am committed to our conservative values while doing all I can to jump-start job growth in our region and limit government interference in our lives. I appreciate this vote of confidence.”
Early and absentee ballots in Bradley County went to Mitt Romney by a margin of 19,017 to 5,008 over President Barack Obama and the lead never changed. The unofficial tally had Romney with 27,417 votes to 8,035 for the president.
A straw poll conducted Monday by the “liars club” that meets each morning at the Old Fort Restaurant correctly called the local presidential race in favor of Romney by a 37 to 18 tally. While the result was correct, the percentages of 67.3 and 32.7 were slightly lower than the actual percentage of Romney’s 75.9 to Obama’s 22.2 percent.
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker won handily over eight others with 81.2 percent or 28,179 votes.
In the U.S. 3rd District, incumbent Chuck Fleischmann easily defeated Democratic challenger Dr. Mary Headrick. Fleischmann received 7,074 votes to Headrick’s 1,647.
Fleischmann said early this morning, "I am honored to have been elected to a second term in Congress. I look forward to continuing to stand for the conservative values I have been fighting for from day one."