What to Watch in Thursday’s Primary Elections in Tennessee



Tennessee is the only state hosting a primary contest on Thursday.

All polling places in the state close simultaneously: 8 p.m. in the Eastern time zone and 7 p.m. in the Central time zone. Look up polling locations and sample ballots here.

Two of the notable races on the ballot:

Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, is seeking re-election and more than half of all voters approve of the job he’s doing, according to recent polling. Democrats, however, are trying to make the case that he can be toppled in a general election. The Democratic primary features three candidates: Jason Martin, a Nashville physician; J.B. Smiley, a Memphis lawyer and city councilman; and Carnita Atwater, a Memphis community activist.

Redistricting diluted Democrats’ power in this Nashville-area district, making it more favorable for Republicans and prompting Jim Cooper, the 16-term Democratic congressman representing it, to retire. The Republican primary is crowded with 10 candidates, including Kurt Winstead, a businessman who has raised hefty sums for his campaign, and the former Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell. State Senator Heidi Campbell is unopposed on the Democratic side.

While not competitive on Thursday, the fall matchup is already set in the newly drawn Seventh District, which includes blue downtown Nashville in addition to redder rural areas of Tennessee — keeping it favorable to Republicans. Representative Mark Green is running unopposed for the Republican nomination and hopes to secure a second term. Odessa Kelly, a community organizer, is the Democratic candidate and is running with the backing of the Justice Democrats, a progressive political action committee.

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