Bell, who was elected to the 23rd Legislative District in 2006, announced his intentions to run for the office only hours after incumbent State Sen. Dewayne Bunch announced in October 2009 he would not seek a second term. He was elected to the Senate in 2006 after serving 10 years representing the city of Cleveland in the House.
Bunch said he is pleased with the outcome of the election because he believes Bell is a conservative who will represent the values of the district and continue to work toward changing the culture in Nashville from the wining and dining days that led to the Tennessee Waltz federal investigation.
“It’s an affirmation of what we’ve been fighting for in Nashville,” he said. “It is a rejection of the old culture in Nashville. I am very excited for the people of the district because we have a very good delegation.”
Bell received 8,895 votes (58.83 percent) of the vote in Bradley County while Patten received 6,212 vote (41.08 percent). In Polk County, Bell won by a count of 1,212 (69.3 percent) to Patten’s 537 votes (30.70).
Patten congratulated Bell for a solid victory and wished the senator-elect the very best.
Bell said he is overwhelmed by the margin of victory.
“I hoped I would win just like every candidate hopes they will win but I never expected the margin,” he said. “I just have to say I’m overwhelmed right now.”
He said he didn’t want to speak for the voters but added that the message of small government and low taxes resonated with the people.
“It was just a lot of hard work,” he said. “I think any candidate who won tonight will tell you the key is getting out and getting callouses on your knuckles and meeting people face to face.”
He said the budget and the economy are going to be the big issues in the next session.
“We’ve been told over the last couple of years it is going to be 2013 (before revenue) meets the revenue we brought in in 2008,” he said. “It’s going to mean another couple of lean years in state government and another couple of years of cuts we are going to have to make.”
Bell will continue working with State Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, and Rep. Eric Watson, whose 22nd District covers Bradley, Polk and Meigs counties. They were both unopposed, but took the time to express their appreciation for the support they received in the Primary Election.
“I am honored and humbled by the vote of confidence given to me by the families, friends and neighbors in Cleveland and Bradley County,” Brooks said. “My family and I are proud to represent the residents of the 24th District in the Tennessee State House. It is a charge of responsibility that we do not take lightly.”
Watson too expressed his appreciation for the support he received and said he will continue fighting against a state income tax and continue to push for English only driver license exams and for Corridor K and other improvements in the transportation infrastructure.