Ogles

From left to right: Moderator Dave Crouch, State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, State Rep. Glen Casada, State Rep. Sam Whitson and State Rep. Brandon Ogles.

The race to represent Tennessee's 61st District, which represents northwestern Williamson County in the state legislature, saw Republican incumbent Brandon Ogles win his first re-election bid on Tuesday, defeating his Democratic opponent Sam Bledsoe.

While Ogles defeated Bledsoe by a comfortable margin, netting over 65% of the vote against Bledsoe's almost 35%, the race was the closest of the three in Williamson County.

A member of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee, Ogles has consistently campaigned on themes of law and order, sponsoring bills that increased penalties for aggravated rape, increased pay for police officers and firefighters, and increased penalties for the possession of certain types of narcotics.

In a written statement, Ogles thanked voters for sending him back to the State Capitol in Nashville for another two years, and vowed to continue focusing on legislation that continues to "advocate for the safety and security of citizens."

"I was first elected to hold our politicians and bureaucrats accountable for the safety of our children — we did that by securing half a billion dollars towards school safety over the next decade and I will continue to advocate for the safety and security of our citizens," Ogles wrote.

"I am excited to get back to work in January to start the 112th General Assembly and will prioritize governmental accountability, domestic violence, and safety measures to protect our most vulnerable citizens."

While the race didn't turn out as hoped for Bledsoe, Ogles' Democratic challenger said that if there was one thing he was proud of his campaign for doing, it was not draining resources from other, more swingable races.

Sam Bledsoe

Sam Bledsoe (left) and his wife and two children.

"If there's one thing I can say about what I did well in the campaign was it was efficient [in terms of] votes per dollar," Bledsoe said.

"We didn't raise much money, we didn't get a whole bunch of media ads or anything and the results were pretty much in line with the rest of the county. So I'm glad we didn't take resources away from places that could legitimately be swung because it seemed like our district was not likely to be one of those."

In terms of areas of improvement, Bledsoe pointed to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as making it difficult to get out in front of new voters.

"Something I would have liked to do better or more of is spread the message of groups in this area who I think are doing really good work; the Harpeth Conservancy, the Democratic Socialists of America, Mothers for Medicare for All," Bledsoe said. 

"That was tough though because there wasn't a lot of opportunity to meet with people because of the pandemic."

As far as what's next for the first-time Democratic candidate, Bledsoe said he would pitch his focus to community organizing utilizing his particular skill set.

"I plan on getting more involved in efforts like community organizing, clean sustainable energy, sustainable agriculture, stuff like that," Bledsoe said. "I've worked in computers doing software programing my whole life, and I feel like there are ways I could use that."

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