published Friday, August 3rd, 2012

JoAnne Favors tops Tommie Brown in House 28 upset

JoAnn Favors celebrates her victory in the race for state representative in House District 28 on Thursday, August 2, 2012, in Chattanooga, Tenn.
JoAnn Favors celebrates her victory in the race for state representative in House District 28 on Thursday, August 2, 2012, in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Photo by Allison Love.
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One thing is certain after Thursday night's election -- Rep. Tommie Brown won't be returning to the state House in January.

JoAnne Favors carried Thursday night's election with 72.2 percent of the vote in a newly drawn district that pitted two black Democratic stalwarts against one another in a bruising primary.

Brown, 78, defended a seat she's held since 1992, earning 27.6 percent of the vote. Favors, 69, who was elected to sister House District 29 in 2004, made the difficult decision to challenge her after being drawn into District 28 earlier this year.

"It's just an awesome endorsement by such an inter-generational group -- young, elderly, middle aged," Favors said.

Vote totals remain unofficial even with 100 percent of precincts reporting.

Favors, who outraised Brown by at least 2-to-1, said she was recruited into the race by local Democrats who like the way she negotiates in Nashville.

Favors, a registered nurse, spent most of her career at Erlanger hospital, rising to head nurse and eventually serving more than two years on the board of trustees.

Thursday night's vote is the third time in Favors' political career that she's managed to pull off an upset.

"I didn't expect to win by that large a margin, but my campaign team worked diligently," she said. "I was so despondent when the endorsement came out from The [Chattanooga] Times."

The Times editorial page endorsed Brown.

"I got the endorsement of the Times, that was a big boost, that really helped," Brown said on Wednesday. "Age adds some things."

Like experience, she said.

Brown took umbrage with local Democrats who questioned her age during the campaign.

Brown holds her doctorate in social work from Columbia University and served as a longtime faculty member at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Though she's never been a powerful political fundraiser, she counted on thousands in her district to choose her name regardless of how much she spent on signs and fliers.

Brown said the campaign process "has not weakened me. It has strengthened me.

"I was Dr. Tommie F. Brown when I won in 1992. I'm still Dr. Tommie F. Brown."

Favors said Thursday night that running against Brown was a tough choice.

"The people asked me to, that's why I ran," she said.

Favors said she plans to take off a few weeks before gearing up for the Nov. 6 general election.

Then she will face Republican Johnny Horne. In Thursday's House 28 race, 1,267 cast Republican ballots and 5,480 voted Democrat.

State House members make $19,009 annually, plus a per diem.

about Ansley Haman...

Ansley Haman covers Hamilton County government. A native of Spring City, Tenn., she grew up reading the Chattanooga Times and Chattanooga Free Press, which sparked her passion for journalism. Ansley's happy to be home after a decade of adventures in more than 20 countries and 40 states. She gathered stories while living, working and studying in Swansea, Wales, Cape Town, South Africa, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn. Along the way, she interned for ...

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