Shortly after polls closed today, J.B. Bennett has a strong lead in the race for an open judge seat in Hamilton County Circuit Court.
Bennett and Catherine Cate White, both Republicans, are facing each other for the party's nomination in the August general election, vying for the seat vacated by Judge Jacqueline Bolton, who publicly announced her retirement from her seat as the court's Division 1 judge last year.
The winning candidate likely will be the next Circuit Court judge, since the lone Democratic candidate, attorney Stuart James, dropped out of the race in March. James' name remains on the ballot.
The three other divisions of Circuit Court have incumbent judges seeking unopposed re-election. They are Judges Jeff Hollingsworth, L. Marie Williams and W. Neil Thomas III.
White, 53, has been in law practice for 25 years and worked in areas including special counsel for Chattanooga, worker's compensation, General Sessions Court, contract disputes and condemnations.
Bennett, 48, has practiced law since 1993 with the firm Spears, Moore, Rebman and Williams. At that firm he's worked mainly in complex civil cases and jury trials.
White has sat as special judge in Circuit Court and Chattanooga City Court. Bennett has sat as special judge in General Sessions Court.