Mike Carter - 3,627 Ethan White - 667 All vote totals are unofficial until certified by the Election Commission; some vote totals include write-in votes
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Former judge, attorney, and two-time incumbent state Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, soundly defeated his first-ever opponent Thursday night for the Tennessee House District 29 seat.
Unofficial tallies show Carter, 62, finished nearly 3,000 votes ahead of his challenger, Ethan White, a 27-year-old Collegedale city commissioner and Realtor. Carter has no Democratic opponent in the district, which represents much of eastern Hamilton County.
"We worked hard and we just had a wonderful team that came together and they did a great job," said Carter, who followed the race from his headquarters off Lee Highway. "I'm just honored to be the recipient of their hard work."
Carter jumped to a more than 1,000-vote lead early in the evening and never stopped surging. Around 10 p.m. White said he called Carter to "congratulate him on his race, to concede."
"I'm very proud of the positive campaign that we ran," White said, adding that his campaign knocked on about 5,000 doors and hand-wrote 4,400 notes to voters. "I'm just very thankful to those who voted for me."
Throughout the campaign, Carter and White sparred over improving the workforce, broadband services and de-annexation issues.
White stressed that refining the education system will spur stronger workforce development and "a more fertile job atmosphere." One of the keys, he said, is removing "20th century regulations that hold back entrepreneurs and businesses."
One such regulation, he said, is occupational licensing reform. For example, a person needs "300 hours of education and a few thousand dollars of fees to wash hair legally in the state of Tennessee."
"So that's one of the big things," White said in a recent interview. "It's hard when people are trying to earn money but the state requires you to have money."
During his campaign, Carter pushed the "second phase" of a bill he championed two years ago that barred cities from annexing by ordinance and giving property owners a vote. White has protested these de-annexation measures, claiming they will prevent cities from growing.
Carter also turned his energy toward the fight to bring back high-speed competitive broadband services to rural Tennesseans despite pushback from corporate telecommunication giants such as AT&T.
Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6347. Follow on Twitter @zackpeterson918.