Election bringing change to Bradley County leadership

Election bringing change to Bradley County leadership

May 7th, 2014 by Judy Walton and Paul Leach in Local Regional News

George Maples checks in to vote while at the Blue Springs Elementary School voting precinct in Bradley County, Tenn., on Tuesday.

George Maples checks in to vote while at...

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.



Eric Watson (R) -- 7,406

Jim Ruth (R) -- 5,025


Steve Crump (R) -- 8660

Stephen Hatchett (R) -- 2578


District 1

Terry Caywood (R) -- 1,477

Tom Collins (R) -- 751

Denis L. Collins (R) -- 468

Mike Hughes (R) -- 1,000

District 2

Louie Alford (R) -- 1,136

Thomas L. Crye (R) -- 855

John Burns (R) -- 623

Tammy Wingo-Salmond (R) -- 436

District 3

Johnny Mull (R) -- 886

Milan M. Blake (R) -- 761

*Jeff D. Morelock (D) -- 78

District 4

Howard Thompson (R) -- 1031

Charlotte Peak-Jones (R) -- 905

June Montgomery (R) -- 666

Carol "Peaches" Searles (R) -- 354

District 5

Bobby Goins (R) -- 474

Briant K. Berry (R) -- 207

Floyd Wade Jr. (R) -- 238

Jeff Yarber (R) -- 546

*Jack Burke Jr. (D) -- 55

District 6

Robert D. Rominger (R) -- 678

Daniel Rawls (R) -- 609

Melvin "Mel" Griffith (R) -- 601

John Cochran (R) -- 509

Tom D. Ledford (R) -- 308

Ronny E. Keller (R) -- 298

*E.J. Laughter (D) -- 95

District 7

William E. "Bill" Winters (R) -- 1187

Mark Hall (R) -- 987

*Pam Edgemon (D) -- 92


Note: All results are unofficial until certified by the Election Commission.

Residents of Bradley, McMinn, Polk and Monroe counties overwhelmingly voted for new leadership in the 10th Judicial District Attorney's Office, rejecting a protege of the current DA in favor of a private-practice attorney who campaigned on a platform of equal justice for all.

Steve Crump swept to a crushing victory over Stephen Hatchett in the Republican primary for district attorney. Results are unofficial until certified.

Also Tuesday, Bradley County voters decided to jettison incumbent Sheriff Jim Ruth. He faced a primary challenge by Eric Watson, who gave up his District 22 seat in the state House of Representatives to run for the seat.

No Democrat ran, so Watson will be sworn in Sept. 1.

The district attorney race could be seen as a referendum on a district that had been a center of controversy for more than two years. The state attorney general and comptroller's office, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the disciplinary board for attorneys and the Tennessee House and Senate all investigated allegations of financial and prosecutorial misconduct.

Crump said Tuesday night he is "very, very pleased" with the vote.

"To receive the kind of mandate for change that we got tonight sets a high bar," Crump said. He said he will be meeting with DA office employees and the area's judges in coming weeks to prepare for the transition.

Crump complimented his opponent for running a "great campaign" and said he hopes Hatchett can help with issues in the office.

"He is a good man ... and I look forward to remaining his friend and us working together," he said.

Hatchett could not be reached for comment.

This was Crump's second try for the office. He was an assistant district attorney under former DA Jerry Estes and lost a hard-fought race in 2006 to Steve Bebb, a former Criminal Court judge.

Crump had led the contest from the start in fundraising over Hatchett, who was Bebb's chief assistant before leaving the office in January to campaign.

In the sheriff's race, Ruth was seeking a second term in office. Neither Ruth nor Watson could be reached for comment.

In other results, three Bradley County Commission two-seat district races were decided in the Republican primary, leaving four to be settled in the Aug. 7 general election.

Regardless of whether they will need to campaign against opponents in the general election, eight of the nine Bradley County commissioners who were seeking re-election were successful in their primary bids.

The 1st, 2nd, and 4th District races were Republican-only affairs that featured four candidates -- including one incumbent -- apiece.

In those races, incumbent Terry Caywood and Mike Hughes won the 1st District; Alford and Thomas Crye won the 2nd District; incumbent Charlotte Peak-Jones and Howard Thompson won the 4th District.

Incumbent Jeff Yarber and Bobby Goins won the Republican primary for the 5th District, beating out Briant K. Berry and Floyd Wade Jr.

In the 6th District, incumbents Dan Rawls and Robert Rominger won the Republican primary, defeating Mel Griffith, John Cochran, Ronny E. Keller and Tom D. Ledford.

Democrat candidates Jack Burke of the 5th District and E.J. Laughter of the 6th District faced no opposition in their primary.

The primary races for the 3rd and 7th districts, which each featured two Republicans and one Democrat, were automatic shoo-ins for the general election.

Republicans Milan M. Blake and Johnny Mull won the Republican primary for 3rd District seats, and incumbent Jeff Morelock took the Democratic primary.

Incumbents Bill Winters and Mark Hall, both incumbents, won the Republican primary for the 7th District, and Pam Edgemon won the Democratic nod.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

Contact staff writer Judy Walton at jwalton@timesfreepress.com.