Judge Kyle Hedrick retains Hamilton County Circuit Court seat

Kyle Hedrick

Judge Kyle Hedrick will remain on the bench in Hamilton County Circuit Court after a landslide victory in Tuesday's Republican primary.

Unofficial election commission tallies show Hedrick finished about 3,500 votes ahead of challenger Catherine "Cate" White, a longtime family attorney who also ran for the position in 2014. Since no Democrat qualified in the primary, Hedrick does not have to run in the August county primary. Circuit Court judge is an eight-year position with a yearly $176,364 salary.

photo Circuit Court Judge Kyle Hedrick speaks at the Pachyderm Club on Monday.
photo Circuit Court candidate Catherine "Cate" White speaks at the Pachyderm Club on Monday.

Haslam announced Hedrick in December as the replacement for Judge Neil Thomas III, who retired early in October after 20 years on the bench. After jumping to an early lead, Hedrick stayed ahead of White all evening and finished with 7,937 votes to her 4,315.

"My resume has nothing political on it. I've never had any political connections in my life, and I was absolutely shocked to get the appointment," Hedrick said afterward. "But I believe the governor saw the sincerity I had, and with all the campaigning I've done, the voters of Hamilton County must have seen what the governor saw. I'm so thankful and overwhelmed and looking forward to the opportunity."

During his appointment interview and on the campaign trail, Hedrick, 56, said he prefers electronic filings and scheduling orders to keep cases on track. According to campaign finance forms, he raised about $121,000 in contributions. Many of those donations came from local lawyers who practice in Circuit Court as well as insurance agents.

White, on the other hand, said she had more experience than Hedrick in the cases that Circuit Court handles: divorces, child custody disputes and orders of protection, among other things.

She also promoted her conservative bona fides in a press release in April, saying she'd voted in more statewide Republican primaries than Hedrick. Though Hedrick raised more money, White said her roughly $20,000 in donations came "from the average, hard-working citizen who has not given in exchange for preferential treatment in my court."

"I am so proud of my team and the extraordinary results we accomplished," White said. "I am wanting to also offer my congratulations to Judge Hedrick. He will serve the community well."

White, 58, who graduated from Girls Preparatory School in 1978, received a degree in broadcast journalism from Baylor University in 1982 and then became an attorney after graduating from Cumberland School of Law in 1988.

Hedrick received his law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1987 after earning a bachelor's degree from Lipscomb University three years earlier. At the time of his appointment, Hedrick served as the administrative hearing officer for the cities of East Ridge, Collegedale, Red Bank and Chattanooga.

Since 2001, he's been in practice at Ramer & Hedrick in Hixson and has been phasing out his caseload since he took to the bench in December.

Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at zpeterson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.