111th Tennessee General Assembly will usher in 32 freshmen legislators

BY CAROLE GRAVES
TML Communications Director

At least one fourth of the Tennessee General Assembly’s members will either be new to the legislature or will be seated in a different chamber. That’s because of an unusually high number of legislative departures, due mostly to retirements or the pursuit of other government offices.

In the state House of Representatives, 29 freshmen legislators were will be sworn into office during the opening day of the 111th Tennessee General Assembly on Jan. 8, 2019.

The Senate will welcome four new members who were elected on Nov. 6. Two additional members will be appointed to fill the vacant seats of Sen. Mark Norris, who was recently appointed as the U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee, and Sen. Mark Green, who was recently elected to serve in the U.S. Congress to represent the 7th Congressional District left vacant by Marsha Blackburn.

Those serving in the Tennessee Senate for the first time include:

  • Dawn White (R), TN Senate District 13. White previously served in the House and ran to fill the seat left vacant by Sen. Bill Ketron, who was recently elected mayor of Rutherford County.
  • Brenda Gilmore (D), TN Senate District 19. Gilmore previously served in the House and ran to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Thelma Harper.
  • Raumesh Akbari (D), TN Senate District 29. Akbari previously served in the House and ran to fill the seat left vacant by Sen. Lee Harris, who was recently elected mayor of Shelby County.
  • Katrina Robinson (D) , TN Senate District 33. Robinson beat incumbent Sen. Reginald Tate in the Democratic primary. She did not have a challenger in the November general election.

Those serving in the Tennessee House for the first time include:

  • Rick Eldridge (R), TNHouse District 10. He will fill the seat left vacant by Rep. Tim Goins.
  • Gloria Johnson (D), TN House District 13. She beat incumbent Eddie Smith (R). Johnson had previously held this seat in 2012, but was beaten by Smith in 2014 and 2016.
  • Dave Wright (R), TN House District 19. Wright was elected to fill the seat vacated by retiring Rep. Harry Brooks.
  • Lowell Russell (R), TN House District 21. Russell fills the seat left vacant by Rep. Jimmy Matlock, who ran for 2nd Congressional District but lost in the primary to Tim Burchett.
  • Mark Cochran (R), TN House District 23. Cochran will fill the seat previously held by retiring Rep. John Forgety.
  • Mark Hall (R), TN House District 24. Hall fills the seat of Rep. Kevin Brooks. Brooks stepped down from the legislature to run for the office of mayor of Cleveland.
  • Robin Smith (R),TN House District 26. Smith fills the seat left vacant by retiring Rep. Gerald McCormick.
  • Yusuf Hakeem (D), TN House District 28. Hakeem ran for the seat left vacant by retiring Rep. Jo Anne Favors. Hakeem is a former member of the Chattanooga City Council.
  • Esther Helton (R), TN House District 30. Helton fills the seat left vacant by Marc Gravitt, who was elected Hamilton County Register of Deeds. Helton is a member of the East Ridge City Council.
  • Charlie Baum (R), TN House District 37. Baum fills the seat left vacant by Dawn White, who was recently elected to the state Senate.
  • Iris Rudder (R), TN House Dist. 39. Rudder fills the seat left vacant by retiring Rep. David Alexander.
  • Johnny Garrett (R), TN House District 45. Garrett replaces retiring Rep. Courtney Rogers.
  • Rush Bricken (R), TN House District 47. Bricken takes the seat left vacant by Rep. Judd Matheny. Matheny ran for the 6th Congressional District and lost the primary election to John Rose.
  • Vincent Dixie (D), TN House District 54. Dixie fills the seat left vacant by Brenda Gilmore, who was recently elected to the state Senate.
  • Bob Freeman (D), TN House District 56. Freeman fills the seat left vacant by Rep. Beth Harwell, who gave up her seat in an unsuccessful bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
  • Jason Potts (D), TN House District 59. Potts fills the seat left vacant by Rep. Sherry Jones, who left office to run for Davidson County Juvenile Court Clerk.
  • Brandon Ogles (R), TN House District 61. Ogles replaces retiring Rep. Charles Sargent.
  • Scott Cepicky (R), TN House District 64. Cepicky replaces retiring Rep. Sheila Butt.
  • Jason Hodges (D), TN House District 67. Hodges replaces Joe Pitts, who was recently elected Clarksville mayor.
  • Clay Doggett (R), TN House District 70. Doggett beat incumbent Rep. Barry Doss in the August primary.
  • Kirk Haston (R), TN House District 72. Haston fills the seat vacated by retiring Rep. Steve McDaniel.
  • Chris Todd (R), TN House District 73. Todd replaces Rep. Jimmy Eldridge, who left office to run for the 2019 election of Jackson mayor.
  • Bruce Griffey (R), TN House District 75. Griffey beat incumbent Rep. Tim Wirgau in the August primary.
  • Chris Hurt (R), TN House District 82. Hurt fills the seat left vacant by Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, who gave up his seat in an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
  • Jesse Chism (D), TN House District 85. Chism will fill the seat of retiring Rep. Johnnie Turner.
  • Justin Lafferty (R) TN House District 89. Lafferty fills the seat of retiring Rep. Roger Kane.
  • London Lamar (D) TN House District 91. Lamar replaces Raumesh Akbari, who was recently elected to the state Senate.
  • Tom Leatherwood (R), TN House District 99. Leatherwood fills the seat of Rep. Ron Lollar, who unexpectedly died while running for re-election.