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Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Voters wait in line at the Hamilton County Election Commission for early voting last week. The state, according to election officials, set a record for the number of early votes cast.

While the nation awaits the arrival of mailed-in ballots, the recounting of votes and the resolution of charges of election fraud to determine a president, Hamilton County will see little change in its election officials.

Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann easily swept to a sixth term in office, outdistancing hospitality manager Meg Gorman. He appeared poised to equal or surpass his highest previous general election vote total in the district, which was 176,613 in his 2016 race against Melody Shekari.

If he serves out his term, only five other 3rd District representatives will have served longer: John Moon (1897-1921), Sam D. McReynolds (1923-1939), James B. Frazier (1949-1963), Marilyn Lloyd (1975-1995) and Zach Wamp (1995-2011).

State Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, looked as if he might survive his toughest race to win a third term for a district that covers part of Hamilton and Bradley counties. He was one of two Republican state senators state Democrats heavily targeted for defeat, and his Democratic opponent was well-regarded Chattanooga assistant police chief Glenn Scruggs.

In his previous two races, he narrowly lost the Hamilton County portion of the district (51.57%-48.06% in 2012 and 50.79%-48.87% in 2016) but easily outpaced his opponents in deep red Bradley County (80.21%-19.64% in 2012 and 82.37%-17.47% in 2016).

As of Tuesday night, Gardenhire was losing Hamilton County 58.91%-41.09% but winning the Bradley portion of his district 83.84%-16.16%. That gave him a slim, 2,064-vote lead (51.47%-48.53%) over Scruggs, but vote was still pending in both counties.

Voters also returned the entire Hamilton County state House delegation to Nashville. Three members of the delegation are just completing their first term, a time when they could be vulnerable. But, in District 26, state Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, crushed challenger Joan Farrell, and in District 30, state Rep. Esther Helton, R-East Ridge, rolled over Joseph Udeaja.

In District 28, first-term state Rep. Yusuf Hakeem, D-Chattanooga, had no opposition.

Both state Rep. Patsy Hazlewood in District 27 and state Rep. Mike Carter in District 29 also had no opposition. This will be Hazlewood's third term and the fifth for Carter, who survived a serious bout with the COVID-19 virus this summer.

Tennessee also will be replacing retiring three-term U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander with former Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty. Hagerty, in early results in which he was called the winner by news organization, had more than 61% of the vote to nearly 36% for environmental organizer Marquita Bradshaw. Bradshaw was the surprise winner of the Democratic primary in August but probably did not fare as well as her primary opponent, James Mackler, might have in the general election.

The Volunteer State has not sent a Democrat to the Senate since Al Gore won re-election in 1990.

The state of Tennessee was called early in the evening Tuesday for President Trump, but that was no surprise. No Democratic presidential contender has won the state since President Bill Clinton in 1996.

In 2016, Trump earned almost twice as many votes in Tennessee as Democrat Hillary Clinton, winning 92 of the state's 95 counties. Only Davidson (Nashville), Shelby (Memphis) and tiny Haywood County did not give him a majority of their votes.

Four years ago, he won Hamilton County by more than 23,000 votes. He won by majorities of more than 4-1 in Bradley County, more than 2-1 in Marion County, nearly 4-1 in Meigs County, more than 4-1 in Rhea County and more than 4-1 in Sequatchie County.

At presstime Tuesday, of counties that had reported any votes, Trump was winning easily in all counties that he won in 2016 except Hamilton County, where he trailed Democrat Joe Biden by some 1,700 votes. He also was having a tough go of it in Fayette County, where his lead was only four votes.

Regardless of the outcome of any Tennessee race, it appears Tennesseans have done themselves proud in going to the polls. They set a record for early votes, and the overall number of votes cast looks to be the state's largest in many years. That is putting democracy in action, and for that voters can take a bow.

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