NASHVILLE - State House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner said today that, while he expected Republicans to gain in Tuesday's midterm elections, the GOP's 14-seat gain in the House was a shock.
"I just think there was so much anger at Washington. It was just a backlash against Washington that we got caught up in," Turner, of Nashville, told reporters this morning, hours after Democrats' representation in the 99-member state district went from 48 to 34 seats.
The anger was exacerbated by a large amount of Republican dollars flowing into Tennessee in the final days of the campaign, he added.
Turner said he feared he would lose his Nashville seat. He survived, but white Democratic lawmakers from Tennessee's rural areas took it on the chin Tuesday that boosted Republican control of the state House from 50 to 64.
Ten of the 12 white Democratic incumbents who lost their re-elections hailed from largely rural areas, including Rep. George Fraley, D-Winchester.
Two other white lawmakers - Rep. Jim Hackworth, D-Clinton, and Rep. Kent Coleman, D-Murfreesboro - represented more urban areas.
Democrats also lost two open seats held by white Democrats who retired.
Of the remaining 34 Democrats, 19 are white and 15 are black. Turner, who is white, said he is weighing whether to seek the caucus chairmanship or House minority leader slot.
All 64 House Republicans are white.