* 4th District — Republican-turned independent Sen. Mike Williams, of Maynardville, faces a challenge from Republican Mike Faulk, of Kingsport, in this largely Republican East Tennessee district.
* 12th District — Democrat Becky Ruppe, of Rockwood, and Republican Ken Yager, of Harriman, are battling over the seat. It is now held by Sen. Tommy Kilby, D-Wartburg, who is not seeking re-election in this swing district, which includes Rhea County.
* 26th District — Democrat Randy Camp, of Humboldt, and Republican Delores Gresham, of Somerville, are squaring off in this GOP-leaning West Tennessee seat now held by Sen. John Wilder, D-Mason, the former Senate speaker.
Race to watch:
* 14th District: Republican Mike Niederhauser, of Estill Springs, faces Democrat Eric Stewart, of Elvidere, in the district that includes Sequatchie, Grundy and Bledsoe counties. Incumbent Rep. Steve Roller, D-McMinnville, lost the Democratic primary to Mr. Stewart. The district leans Democratic, but Republicans are hopeful.
* 2nd District — Rep. Nathan Vaughn, D-Kingsport, faces a challenge from Republican Tony Shipley, of Kingsport, in this historically Republican area.
* 11th District — Rep. Eddie Yokley, D-Greeneville, is opposed by Republican Dan Ford, of Cosby, in this traditional GOP district.
* 36th District — Democrat Roger Byrge, of Jacksboro, and Chad Faulkner, of Luttrell, are facing off in this Republican-leaning, upper Cumberland Plateau district now held by Rep. William Baird, R-Jacksboro.
* 48th District — Republican Joe Carr, of Lascassas, and Democrat Tim Tipps, of Murfreesboro, face each other for the seat being vacated by Rep. John Hood, D-Murfreesboro.
* 64th District — Rep. Tom DuBois, R-Columbia, faces Democrat Ty Cobb, of Columbia.
* 71st District — Republican Vance Dennis, of Savannah, is vying with Democrat Stan Wheeler, of Guys, for the seat. Rep. Randy Rinks, D-Savannah, is not seeking re-election.
NASHVILLE — At least one and possibly two area state Senate seats will become major election battlegrounds this fall with control of the 33-member Senate coming down to a handful of contested seats, according to legislative leaders.
As the smoke from Thursday’s primaries cleared, Democrats and Republicans agreed a fight is looming in the open 12th Senatorial District seat where former Roane County Executive Ken Yager, a Republican, faces current Morgan County Executive Becky Ruppe, a Democrat.
The district also includes Rhea, Campbell, Fentress and Scott counties. The incumbent, Sen. Tommy Kilby, D-Wartburg, is not seeking re-election.
Republicans, meanwhile, said they think the Democratic-leaning 14th Senatorial District, which includes Sequatchie and Grundy counties, could become competitive because Coffee County businessman Mike Niederhauser won Thursday’s primary.
Mr. Neiderhauser will face Democrat Eric Stewart, who heads a Franklin County insurance agency. Mr. Stewart on Thursday ousted Sen. Steve Roller, D-McMinnville, in a three-way primary where voting occurred largely along geographic lines, according to unofficial concerns.
“There are three seats we’re really concentrating on and a fourth one where we have a shot,” said Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, the Senate speaker, who put the Yager/Ruppe matchup in the first category.
“Everybody loves him,” Lt. Gov. Ramsey said of Mr. Yager, 61, who served 24 years as county executive. “He’s just a great guy.”
He said the Niederhauser/Stewart race could develop into a real contest, especially if Mr. Niederhauser puts some of his own funds into his campaign.
Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Haynes, D-Nashville, agreed the 12th District contest promises to be a major fight.
Calling Mrs. Ruppe an “excellent candidate,” Sen. Haynes said, “I think we got a real race on our hands there, and I think Becky can be successful. I’m very positive.”
Sen. Haynes voiced skepticism about GOP chances in the 14th District, which includes Warren, Bledsoe and Van Buren counties.
The Roller defeat was one of only two primary losses among the 16 Senate seats and all 99 House seats up for election this year. In the 8th Senatorial District, Sen. Raymond Finney, R-Maryville, a staunch conservative, lost to the more moderate Rep. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville.
Leaders of both parties are now looking to Nov. 4. The Senate is divided 16 to 16 with one Republican turned independent, Sen. Mike Williams, of Maynardville, who often sides with Democrats.
One of the Democrats, Sen. Rosalind Kurita, D-Clarksville, sometimes sides with Republicans and helped elect Sen. Ramsey speaker last year. She squeaked through her Democratic primary Thursday by 19 votes and has no general election opponent.
Two House Republicans, meanwhile, faced their own GOP primary battles over party loyalty. One, Rep. Kent Williams, R-Butler, easily won his primary. The other was Rep. Overbey.
In addition to the 12th Senatorial District, Republicans are focusing primarily on Sen. Williams and the West Tennessee seat held by former Lt. Gov. John Wilder, D-Mason, who is not seeking re-election.
Sen. Haynes voiced confidence Democrats will retain the Wilder seat and help Sen. Williams retain his. Sen. Haynes said he believes Democrats can win two Middle Tennessee seats now held by Republicans.
Neither Lt. Gov. Ramsey nor Sen. Haynes mentioned the heavily Democratic 10th Senatorial District where Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, is considered the favorite in a matchup with Republican Oscar Brown.
Mr. Brown, a factory worker from Marion County, has reported raising no money. He has acknowledged he faces an “uphill” fight.
The only other contested Hamilton County race is in the 29th Legislative District where Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, faces a challenge from Republican Basil Marceaux in the heavily Democratic district. Republican House leaders have not targeted the contest.
As the general election begins, six of 16 senators running for re-election have no partisan opposition or face only token independent candidates. Four of the six, including Sen. Kurita, are Democrats. Two are Republicans.
In the 12th Senate District, both Mrs. Ruppe, 45, and Mr. Yager, 61, say they are ready.
“I feel very good,” said Mrs. Ruppe, who like Mr. Yager had no primary opposition.
Mr. Yager said he, too, feels good about the contest, noting that he has “hit the ground running, and we’re not going to stop until Nov. 4.”
In the 99-member House, where Democrats now have a 53-46 edge, 32 Republicans have no partisan opposition, with four of them facing independents. Thirty-one Democrats have no partisan opposition, and four also face independents.
It takes 50 seats to control the House. Republicans say they have a chance to win the chamber this year, citing two Upper East Tennessee seats in traditionally Republican now held by Democrats and two seats in increasingly Republican areas being vacated by incumbents in Middle and West Tennessee.
Democrats say they will defend their own seats and believe they have good chances of picking up two seats being vacated by Republican incumbents. Only one is near Chattanooga — the 11th District. It features Democrat Roger Byrge, of Jacksboro, and Republican Chad Faulkner, of Luttrell.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...