Thursday's vote tallies changed the face of the six-county 12th Judicial District in a single stroke.
With all Republican district circuit judges on the ballot facing no opposition combined with landslide victories for Courtney Lynch in the district attorney's race and Ted Engel in the public defender's race, the GOP on Thursday swept the six-county 12th Judicial District.
When the totals were tallied, political newcomer Lynch, of Franklin County, handily defeated incumbent Mike Taylor, who first took office in 1992. Lynch netted 16,165 votes to Taylor's 7,281 across the six counties of the district: Bledsoe, Franklin, Grundy, Marion, Rhea and Sequatchie, according to election records. Results are unofficial until election commissions across the district certify them.
Taylor, who first took office as a Democrat, was on the August ballot as an independent. Neither Lynch nor Taylor could be reached for comment.
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In her campaign, Lynch, who once worked on Taylor's staff, touted her experience, character and conservative values. She is a 1998 University of Alabama graduate and a 2001 Vanderbilt law school graduate who practiced law in Winchester, Tennessee, until she joined Taylor's staff in the Franklin County office in 2012 for several years.
Meanwhile, incumbent Public Defender Jeff Harmon also was defeated by Republican challenger Ted Engel, 13,992 to 8,307, or 62.75% to 37.25%, election tallies show. Harmon was appointed in early 2011 when previous Public Defender Phil Condra retired.
And in contests for judge's posts, GOP candidates filled the entire 12th Judicial District bench without opposition.
The new Circuit Court Judge Part 1 will be Bradley Sherman, Circuit Court Judge Part 2 will be John "Cam" Cameron, Circuit Court Judge Part 3 will remain Justin Angel, who is now the presiding, senior judge in the district and the only incumbent among its judges. Circuit Court judges Thomas Graham and Curtis Smith didn't seek re-election.
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Angel said Friday he was honored to be re-elected to the post he first won in 2014, and he welcomes the newcomers.
"It's an exciting time in our district and Chancellor Melissa Willis and I welcome two new Circuit Court judges to the bench," Angel said in a text. "We're already working together to facilitate a smooth and successful transition."
Angel also welcomed Lynch and Engel, he said. Willis, also a Republican, was elected in 2018 after former Chancellor Jeff Stewart stepped down for health reasons.
"In meeting with all of our new elected officials, they're all highly qualified and ready to get to work," Angel said. "We're all committed to continual improvement of the judiciary and legal system and equal access to justice for all citizens."
NEW GRUNDY SHERIFF
In other judicial-related races, Grundy County Sheriff Clint Shrum, who ran as a Republican on Thursday's Grundy County ballot, was unseated by an independent challenger, election records show.
Heath G. Gunter, who defeated Shrum 1,618 to 1,455, or 52.65% to 47.35%, will be Grundy County's new sheriff.
According to his social media campaign page, Gunter previously worked at the sheriff's office until he left in 2011.
Shrum has held the seat since he defeated former sheriff Brent Myers in the 2014 Democratic primary in 2014 and won the seat over opponent Russell Baker, who ran as an independent that August. Shrum won the Republican primary in May by a four-vote margin en route to Thursday's tilt with Gunter.
Contact Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton.