Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, retained his seat for state House District 31, ending a heated Republican contest between the current legislator and a former legislator from the same district.
Rep. Cobb faced Republican challenger Jim Vincent, who held the District 31 seat from 2000 to 2004.
District 31 covers northern Hamilton County and Rhea County, which was significant for Rep. Cobb, who lives in Rhea County. More Rhea County voters came to the polls than in Hamilton County, casting a total of 3,197 votes in Rhea to 2,847 in Hamilton.
All vote totals, which include federally mandated provisional ballots, are unofficial until certified by county or state officials.
Rep. Cobb could not be reached for comment Thursday night.
DISTRICT 31 VOTES
Jim Cobb (R): 3,553
Jim Vincent (R): 2,491
Reached at home Thursday night, Mr. Vincent said he was disappointed and had looked forward to “serving the people.”
“We did really well in Hamilton County and poor in Rhea,” he said. “They outvoted us.”
There is no Democratic candidate for the seat, so Rep. Cobb faces no opposition in the November general election.
Mr. Vincent ran a campaign that questioned Rep. Cobb’s vote last year on the funding formula for the Basic Education Program. Rep. Cobb voted against the measure, saying it would harm Rhea County. Mr. Vincent maintained the formula would not have hurt the more-rural Rhea and said Rep. Cobb was “uninformed” in his vote.
The campaign has been heated, with accusations being hurled at Rep. Cobb that he has been dishonest for putting campaign signs out with endorsements he had not yet received.
Questions also arose over a 2004 fracas in a Nashville bar that Mr. Vincent was involved in while he was a legislator. He’s also been asked about attempts to help his brother-in-law regain an insurance license.
Legislators earn $16,500 a year, according to the Tennessee General Assembly. Rep. Cobb will take his seat on Jan. 12, 2009, under General Assembly rules.
Cliff has worked for the Times Free Press for five years and covers Chattanooga city government. He previously covered Rhea County, as well as transportation and growth and development in Southeast Tennessee. A native of Maryville, Tenn., Cliff graduated in 2003 from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis on journalism. Before coming to Chattanooga, he was a crime reporter with Hernando Today, a supplement of The Tampa (Fla.) ...