Local candidates and voters packed Mojo's Tacos in the Factory at Franklin on Thursday night for an election watch party for Tennessee State Senator Jack Johnson, Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson and now Republican State Representative candidate for District 63 Jake McCalmon, among others.
Tenn. State Sen. Jack Johnson
Several hundred people attended the energetic party that kicked off at 7 p.m. and wrapped up at 11 p.m. following remarks by Johnson, who beat out challenger Gary Humble in a tight race for District 27 that saw the unofficial tally for the Republican nomination sit at 12,470-11,683.
The victory will return Johnson to another term to lead the state senate with no Democratic challenger ahead in upcoming November election.
"We're going to have a great delegation for Williamson County," Johnson said, congratulating his fellow Republicans who won races on Thursday, including his wife sitting Williamson County Judge Deanna Johnson who was unopposed in her race.
Sen. Johnson arrived at the watch party as it was wrapping up after it was clear that he won his race.
"I've represented Williamson County for 16 years. I don't apologize for that," Johnson said, a comment aimed at his opponent. "I'm grateful that you've given me the opportunity to do it for another four years.
"It's really quite simple. Conservative principles work every time that they're tried, and we've demonstrated that in Tennessee, and now that you've given me the opportunity to serve again, I'm going to continue to demonstrate that for the next four years."
The tight race between Johnson and Humble seemed to be a surprise to the Johnson camp and his supporters as the race has highlighted the divisions within the Republican party and the conservative movement, but those divisions don't appear to mean a weakened party locally.
"I would say that the conservative movement is alive and strong in Tennessee and it's alive and strong in Williamson County, and some people have different ideas about how that conservative movement should progress, but I'm just so grateful and honored to be the Republican nominee and to serve another four year term," Johnson told the Home Page. "I think that our message of low taxes and pro-business friendly environment resonated with voters and it's what got us across the finish line."
Johnson said that the biggest lesson he's learned from the race is in messaging to new Tennessee voters who are flocking to the Volunteer State and to Williamson County from all over the country.
"I think we've got to do a better job of communicating what we're doing here in Tennessee and the great stuff that's going on in the Tennessee General Assembly, and so I look forward to the opportunity to do that," he said.
But for Humble and his supporters, a different message was sent by Thursday night's results.
"We knew we were fighting an uphill battle. But even against the endorsements of almost all of the state’s Republican leadership, a war chest of campaign funding, and negative attacks stemming from three different PACs, we almost prevailed," Humble said in an email to the Home Page.
"The message is clear. There is a deep divide in the Republican Party. A significant number of us are tired of top down leadership and crony politics. The establishment’s response to this challenge was embarrassing and they’ve exposed exactly who they are. They didn’t have a winning message to stand on. Instead, all they could muster were outlandish attacks in an effort to discredit their opponent.
"I am proud of the race we put forward," Humble continued. "We stuck to our mission. And with 48.4% of the vote against a 16-year incumbent, it is clear that our message is resonating in Williamson County. So, we will continue to push forward."
Tenn. House of Rep. District 63 Republican nominee Jake McCalmon
Glen Casada's former House seat will now be up for grabs between Republican nominee Jake McCalmon and Democrat Kisha Davis after McCalmon defeated Laurie Cardoza-Moore 3,122-2,943 for the Republican nomination.
"It's in no small measure that I look at the trust that y'all put in me, the trust to represent the 63rd district, to me that is a gift," McCalmon said. "And I don't take it for granted. I thank each and every one of you who has been supportive.
"And with your support, we're going to go on and fight for conservative values, we're going to continue to fight for a pro-business party, and at the end of the day, we're going to fight to make Williamson County the greatest place to raise a family, build a business, and we're going to pass on a strong Tennessee to future generations."
Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson
Anderson defeated position independent challenger Stephen "Coach" Done 22,528-11,017, marking his fifth term as County Mayor.
"I have enjoyed being your mayor, I have enjoyed working with all of the other elected officials, both at the county level, the County Commission level, the school board race and even the state races," Anderson told the crowd of supporters.
Anderson told the Home Page that his next term will see a focus on two big long-term projects with a new judicial center and new jail.
"Those are our top capital projects that we have got and those will take a long period of time to finish because we'll have to do them in phases," Anderson said. "But there are so many other things, balancing the books, and particularly during the economy that we're living in today, to be sure that we can pay for those things that we've budgeted for because they are coming in over budget, and we'll figure out other plans.
"I think that is called governance, I think that is balancing what I've done over the last several years, and I am very excited and looking forward to the next four years."