Republicans cushioned a narrow lead in the state House of Representatives yesterday.
The GOP seized a seat from Democrats in a special election in the Shelbyville area. Democrats had hoped to show they could hold on there, after losing almost every open seat last fall.
Republican Pat Marsh beat out Democrat Ty Cobb with 56 to 41 percent of the vote. Cobb had been running to replace his brother in a seat long held by Democrats.
Brian Russell is a political science professor at Tennessee State University. Russell says Republicans used national politics to rally more votes. He argues the GOP worked to connect Cobb to Democrats at the federal level, and used the prospect of federal healthcare overhaul against him.
“This has activated Republicans who are afraid – who want to take their country back – and it looks like this has activated the Republican base to get out and vote.”
Democrats now face an uphill battle to regain control of the state house. Russell says the president’s party usually loses seats in the first midterm election at the Congressional level. And he believes that could carry over in the state elections.
About one in four eligible voters turned out, which Professor Russell says is decent given the off-election year.
The constitution party’s Chris Brown, who appeared on the ballot as an independent, captured about 3 percent of the vote.