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Here's what you need to know to vote in northwest Tennessee's legislative primaries Thursday.

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Tennessee’s primary election is Thursday, August 4, featuring multiple contested Republican primary races in northwest Tennessee. The elections also serve as a first look at a few Democratic candidates running for office, though many races don’t have a Democrat running in a region that has heavily voted for Republicans in recent elections.

Each county in Tennessee determines when its polls open, but all Tennessee polling locations close at 7 p.m. CST. Polling precinct locations and hours can be found by using the state-provided GoVoteTN website.

Tennesseans will be voting for state, federal and county officials as well as answering retention questions for judges on Tennessee’s Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and Court of Criminal Appeals.

WKMS News has created a voting guide for northwest Tennesseans, compiling online information on candidates seeking seats in the Tennessee House of Representatives, Tennessee Senate and the two congressional districts encompassing northwest Tennessee.

Sample Ballots

Below are links to sample ballots through each of the counties’ election commissions. These can be used to determine what congressional state House or state Senate district you reside in. When the ballots are only available split into separate parties, each has been provided:

Alternatively, you can use this interactive tool provided by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office to figure out your districts. Tennessee state lawmakers created new district boundaries for state Senate, state House and congressional seats earlier this year in a once-a-decade redistricting process.

U.S. Congressional Races

The redistricting process also saw changes for Tennessee’s nine U.S. Representative seats.

The largest change to the congressional district boundaries saw the 5th congressional district – consisting of Democrat-dominant Davidson County, the city of Nashville and neighboring counties – shift southward, with two historically Republican, rural congressional districts taking parts of Davidson County and Nashville.

Tennessee Congressional Map 2023
Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury
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7th U.S. House District

The 7th congressional district was one of those two districts, which now includes a large swath of Nashville. The district stretches northwest to the Tennessee portion of the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area and also includes a number of small towns reaching down to the southern state border with Alabama.

U.S. House Representative Mark Green, a Republican from Clarksville, is running for a third term after first being elected to the seat in 2018. Green is a physician, veteran and former state senator. He is running uncontested in the Republican primary.

On Mark Green’s campaign website, some of the issues he advocates for include:

  • Protecting gun rights
  • Abolishing the U.S. Department of Education and supporting parental choice in education
  • Supporting anti-abortion policies and legislation
  • Putting “free market principles back into healthcare.”
  • Continuing “to cut taxes at all levels of government.”

Green recently said he doesn’t believe former President Donald Trump broke any laws during the January 6th riot and doesn’t consider the events of that day to be an insurrection.

Odessa Kelly is the lone Democratic candidate running for the 7th congressional district, facing no competitors in the primary. According to her campaign website, Kelly is a community organizer from Nashville having worked in the city’s Parks and Recreation department for more than a decade. She is the executive director of Stand Up Nashville, a nonprofit aiming to organize city residents for racial and economic equity.

According to her campaign website, some of the issues she advocates for include:

  • Creating an equitable economy that makes “the richest Americans to pay their fair share.”
  • Implementing Medicare for All
  • Implementing a Green New Deal
  • Investing in public housing and ensuring housing “is a human right”
  • Enacting “common-sense” gun laws including requiring a registry of existing assault weapons 

In late May, Kelly spoke to Vogue about her perceptions of shifting politics in the South among other topics.

8th U.S. House District

Tennessee’s 8th congressional district wasn’t heavily altered in the most recent redistricting process. It still encompasses the majority of the western portion of the state, excluding portions of Shelby and Tipton counties, which contain Memphis and Covington, respectively.

U.S. House Representative David Kustoff, a Republican with Memphis roots, is running for a fourth term in office. Kustoff has worked in politics since the 1990s and is a former U.S. Attorney for Tennessee. He’ll be facing a contested primary for his party’s nomination.

Some of the issues Kustoff advocates for, according to his campaign website, include:

  • Prioritizing public safety by “cleaning up government and public corruption” and “fighting violent crime and drugs.” He is also in favor of the death penalty.
  • Not implementing “the common core,” a set of academic standards phased out in Tennessee in 2017.
  • Standing for “west Tennessee values,” which he defines as being pro-life, saying “marriage is between a man and a woman” and defending the 2nd Amendment. 
  • Creating jobs through tax reform and the elimination of “unnecessary regulations.”
  • Strengthening the rural economy by passing a strong Farm Bill.
  • The continued dismantling of the Affordable Care Act.

Kustoff voted against impeaching former president Donald Trump and against certifying some of the results of the 2020 election.

He’ll be facing a trio of competitors for the GOP nomination for the 8th congressional district – Bob Hendry, Danny Bridger Jr. and Dean Clouse.

Clouse, according to his campaign website, is a U.S. Air Force veteran and a doctor of physical therapy. He and his family reside in Somerville.

Clouse is against “COVID mandates,” which he says are “unconstitutional, unethical and not based in real science.” He also says the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” and that there is “massive proof available” to that point.

Joe Biden won the 2020 election for president, and allegations of massive voting fraud have been refuted by numerous state election officials, judges and the former Trump administration’s U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The candidate is also a 2nd Amendment supporter and took issue with a vote of Kustoff’s on the National Defense Authorization Act which could allow military courts to “take guns without due process from veterans.”

“I've watched our government at all levels become more tyrannical through fear, lies, and COVID measures seeking to gain control of us while most of our representatives do nothing to fight it,” Clouse said on his campaign site. “I think those we elect should wield the power we give them, not remain mostly silent. If elected, I plan to use the liberal tactic of being the loudest in the room against them.”

Bridger – a U.S. Navy veteran and lifelong Tennessee resident – owns an HVAC and welding business in Milan.

Some issues Bridger advocates for on his campaign website include:

  • Implementing one-page bill submissions “with common-sense language, so that the average American will be able to easily determine whether they support the bill or not.”
  • Implementing term limits for U.S. House and Senate members.
  • Establishing “energy independence” from foreign oil suppliers.
  • Returning rights to the states in the interest of “limiting federal oversight.”

Bridger feels that Kustoff has “let [Tennessee] down.”
“He has sold us out,” he said during a recent debate. “He was a God-fearing man when he went in, and he is no longer a God-fearing man. We need more God-fearing men and women. There’s always going to be division. No one wants to be kumbaya. This is America, we’re always going to have differences. We just need to put those differences aside and have agreements.

“We need new leadership in Washington, and in the state. And if they’re up there now, we don’t need them up there.”

Hendry – a former United State Marine Corps member – co-owns a spa in Collierville. He sees Kustoff as “a career politician who gets nothing done” and hopes to bring “grit and tough leadership” to the Republican Party.

On his campaign site, Hendry contends that “elections are being stolen,” “our families are under attack” and “our Federal and State Constitutions are disregarded.”

“The overwhelming things we’re hearing is that we need honest people with integrity and grit in Washington,” Hendry said during a recent debate. “We also need to secure our border. A nation without a secure border is not a nation. And we need to get our economy back under control.”

On the other side of the aisle, a pair of Democrats will be vying for the party’s nomination – Tim McDonald and Lynette Williams.

McDonald is a former logging and construction worker and a retired airline pilot. He is a Vietnam veteran from Washington State who – according to his responses to a Ballotpedia candidate survey – “moved to Tennessee in 2002 to help a woman in prison raise her two children.” He identifies as a “fiscal conservative” and a gun owner.

Williams has been identified as a “Democratic activist” during previous campaigns – which include unsuccessful runs for Tennessee State House Districts 95 and 85 and a Memphis City Council seat.

At a recent debate at the University of Tennessee at Martin, Williams spoke about her desire to get “Christian values back in politics” and outlined her HELPS platform.

“’HELPS means that I’m interested in healthcare, education, living wages and public safety,” she said. “I want you to understand that this is a time that we need to be closer to God. We need to stop the division and partisanship and come together as a country.”

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Tennessee House Races

House District 67

House District 67 encompasses a portion of Montgomery County, essentially the city of Clarksville, and is an open seat with State Rep. Jason Hodges, a Democrat, choosing not to run for reelection. Two Republicans are competing in the GOP primary for the seat: John Dawson and Tommy Vallejos.

According to Dawson’s campaign website, he is a veteran with 20 years of experience in the Army and recently was the chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party. Listed on his website, the issues he advocates for include:

  • Maintenance of roads in and near Clarksville
  • Promoting technical and vocational education in high schools
  • Promoting anti-abortion policies and legislation
  • Protecting gun rights

According to Vallejos’ campaign website, he is a veteran, pastor and served two terms as a Montgomery County commissioner. Listed on his website, the issues he advocates for include:

  • Updates to highways and roads near Clarksville
  • Protecting parental rights in education
  • Keeping taxes low
  • Ensuring the safety of neighborhoods and communities in the district

Ronnie Glynn is the lone Democrat running for the seat and is uncontested in the Democratic primary election. According to Glynn’s campaign website, he is a veteran, small business owner and serves as a youth mentor for the nonprofit Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Listed on his website, the issues he advocates for include:

  • Promoting access to healthcare
  • Make “Tennessee more livable for all” amid rising costs for middle-class Tennesseans
  • Protecting voting rights
  • Support for public schools and education

House District 68

Tennessee House District 68 is made up of a portion of Montgomery County that includes Sango and the east side of Clarksville.

Republican Rep. Curtis Johnson, of Clarksville, has represented the district since 2004 and is running for a tenth term in office. He is without opposition in the GOP primary and no Democrat has filed for the race. The representative has not had a primary opponent in over 10 years and has only faced one Democratic challenger in the past five elections.

Johnson is the chair of House’s Select Ethics subcommittee and also sits on the Business and Utilities, Insurance, Public Service, Select Committee on Rules and State Government subcommittees.

Throughout his career, he has supported anti-abortion legislation, local commerce and veterans.

He was named Deputy Speaker of the Tennessee General Assembly in January.

“It is imperative that Tennessee continues to uphold the conservative reforms that have helped us see such remarkable progress, both economically and educationally, over the last several years,” Johnson said when he announced his campaign for reelection. “I will continue to serve as a strong conservative voice for Montgomery County in the House, and I will always seek input from our citizens as we consider policies that will impact their lives.”

House District 74

House District 74 consists of Stewart, Houston, Humphreys and Benton counties along with a part of Henry County. The district has been represented by State Rep. Jay Reedy, a Republican, since 2014. He is uncontested in the Republican primary, and no Democrats have filed to run against him.

Reedy describes himself as a Houston County business owner, a cattle farmer and a veteran on his campaign website. Listed on his website, the issues he advocates for include:

  • Creating “sustainable jobs” by, in part, opposing a state income tax
  • Protecting gun rights
  • Avoid “one-size-fits” ideas for education
  • Consolidate services offered to veterans 

House District 75

House District 75 includes the western half of Montgomery County and features three Republican candidates vying for the seat in the GOP primary: Jeff Burkhart, Kent Griffy and Deanna McLaughlin. No Democrat has filed to run for the seat.

Jeff Burkhart served on the Clarksville City Council and describes his background on his campaign website as serving as a firefighter and having a long career as a realtor. Listed on his website, the issues he advocates for include:

  • “Fiscal sanity” for the state through “common-sense legislation”
  • Funding schools, teachers and school resource officers
  • Funding law enforcement
  • Honoring the military and veterans

Kent Griffy describes himself as a farmer and entrepreneur in his campaign launch announcement published by Clarksville Now, wanting to provide a voice in government for those “who believe they no longer have a voice.” Listed on his campaign website, the issues he advocates for include:

  • Support public education and “block laws that promote social agendas
  • Fund first responders and law enforcement
  • Protect businesses from “harmful legislation”
  • Support education programs in agriculture

Deanna McLaughlin served on the Clarksville City Council and describes herself on her campaign website as an active member of the Montgomery County Republican Party and a concealed carry permit holder. Listed on her campaign website, the issues she advocates for include:

  • Transparency through the promise to hold quarterly town halls if elected
  • Supporting parent choice in education
  • Ensure Montgomery County has proper road funding from the state
  • Protect gun rights

House District 76

Tennessee’s 76th House District includes Weakley County and part of Carroll and Henry counties.

Republican Rep. Tandy Darby is running for a second term in office. He will face no opponent in the GOP primary and no Democrat has filed for the race.

When he announced his bid for reelection, Darby listed “strengthening economic development, improving education and making Tennessee the friendliest state for business” as major focuses of his. He also pointed to his efforts when it comes to education – specifically his sponsoring of legislation extending eligibility for tuition reimbursement to members of the Tennessee national guard under the STRONG Act and implementing a program to keep track of how many speech language pathologists are needed in the state school system.

Other platform priorities, according to Darby’s campaign website, include:

  • Keeping Tennessee “one of the lowest taxed states by supporting fiscally conservative policies and avoiding excessive regulation.”
  • Protecting the 2nd Amendment.
  • Opposing illegal immigration.
  • Supporting anti-abortion policies.
  • Supporting policies benefiting farmers to bolster rural Tennessee.

Darby, a lifelong Greenfield resident, works for a produce company.
He is the vice chair of the Calendar and Rules subcommittee and also sits on the Agriculture and Natural Resources, Education Administration and Higher Education committees.

House District 77

Tennessee’s 77th House District contains Dyer and Lake counties, as well as a part of Obion County.

Incumbent Republican Rep. Rusty Grills is vying for reelection. He will be unopposed in the GOP primary and no Democrat has filed for the race.

Grills is a farmer and a former Dyer County commissioner based in Newbern. He serves as the vice chair for the Agriculture and Natural Resources committee while also sitting on the Naming and Designating, Transportation, Health and Safety and Calendar and Rules subcommittees.

This year Grills sponsored House Bill 1898 – a piece of legislation that, if passed, would have renamed “enhanced and concealed handgun carry permits” as “enhanced and concealed firearm carry permits,” effectively allowing holders to carry any gun they own.

He also sponsored a bill aimed at preventing law enforcement from using face recognition technology and another that would have authorized private citizens making arrests to “threaten deadly force without having a reasonable belief of imminent danger of death, serious bodily injury, or grave sexual abuse based on an actual danger.”

House District 82

Tennessee’s 82nd House District is made up of Crockett and Lauderdale counties as well as portions of Gibson and Obion counties.

Republican Rep. Chris Hurt is running for a third term in office representing the area. He is uncontested in the GOP primary and no Democrat has filed for the race.

Hurt – who works as a real estate broker – is based in Halls. He bills himself as having “a lifetime of experience in agriculture, education and small-business” on his campaign Facebook page.

Hurt is a former hemp farmer and current co-owner of CBD ProCare, a CBD company in Dyersburg. Earlier this year, Hurt filed a bill seeking to “legitimize” the existing cannabis industry in Tennessee by regulating psychotropic hemp-derived cannabinoids that included products with more than 0.1% THC. This would have included products containing Delta-8 but not pure CBD products.

He’s vice chair of the Education Administration subcommittee and also sits on Agriculture and Natural Resources, K-12, Select Committee on Rules, Transportation, Commerce and Judiciary subcommittees.

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Tennessee Senate Races

Senate District 23

Tennessee’s 23rd Senate district was completely shifted during the most recent redistricting. Prior to this year, the district fell to the southwest of Nashville – containing the city of Franklin. Now, it contains Cheatham, Dickson, Hickman, Humphreys and Robertson counties, as well as a portion of Montgomery County.

All of these counties were formerly in state Senate District 25 – which is currently represented by Republican Sen. Kerry Roberts, who is seeking election in this newly reformed 23rd District. Roberts is unopposed for the GOP nomination with no Democrat having filed for the race.

Roberts is the chair of the Tennessee Senate’s Government Operations subcommittee and also sits on the Joint Judiciary and Government subcommittee and the Joint Education, Health and General Welfare subcommittee.

On Roberts’ campaign website, he calls himself a “staunch conservative” who believes in “limited government, personal responsibility and individual liberty.”

“We believe our conservative principles mean we can compassionately take care of our most vulnerable citizens, provide educational opportunities for all Tennesseans, and create an environment where farmers and small businesses flourish IF we keep taxes low, spend wisely, and balance our budget,” he said. “We can make Tennessee even better. There are far too many who have yet to benefit from our growing economy or whose families are torn apart by generational poverty, illiteracy, or addictions.

Senate District 25

Tennessee’s 25th Senate District encompasses Lake, Crockett, Dyer, Madison, Henderson, Decatur and Perry counties. Many of these were formerly housed in District 27, which is now firmly south of Nashville after the most recent redistricting.

Republican Sen. Ed Jackson of Jackson has represented the former District 27 for seven years and is now seeking election in this newly reformed District 25. He will be unopposed in the GOP primary and no Democrat has filed for the race.

Jackson is a retired veteran and owns a small business. On his campaign website, he says he advocates for small businesses and small government, anti-abortion values, 2nd Amendment rights, cutting taxes, the expansion of broadband and telemedicine offerings and justice reform geared towards providing counseling to non-violent offenders, among other things.

He chairs the Calendar subcommittee and also sits on the Health and Welfare, State and Local Government, Joint Commerce, Labor, Transportation and Agriculture and Joint Education, Health and General Welfare subcommittees.

A native of western Kentucky, Operle earned his bachelor's degree in integrated strategic communications from the University of Kentucky in 2014. Operle spent five years working for Paxton Media/The Paducah Sun as a reporter and editor. In addition to his work in the news industry, Operle is a passionate movie lover and concertgoer.
"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
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