ROGERSVILLE — Mike Harrison celebrated his victory in the Tennessee House of Representatives 9th District race Tuesday night by helping Phil Roe celebrate his congressional victory at Roe headquarters in Kingsport.
Harrison, a Sneedville native who now resides in Hawkins County, breezed his way into a fourth House term in District 9. He grabbed 71 percent of the overall vote with 14,647 compared to Democratic challenger Rick Gabriel, who received 5,141 votes or about 25 percent of the vote.
Independent challenger Leonard Merrit was a distant third with 770 votes.
Although both counties he represents — Hawkins and Hancock — are heavily Republican, Harrison said he wasn’t banking on such an overwhelming victory.
“I’m humbled by that,” Harrison told the Times-News via telephone from Roe headquarters. “When you run a race you never know what’s going to happen, but I’m just glad it’s over with. I just appreciate all the trust the voters in the 9th District have placed in me, and I plan on continuing to try to do my best to serve the people of the district.”
Harrison said he sees the economy and the state budget as the biggest challenges of his upcoming two-year term.
“Hopefully the revenue is going to turn around, but if it doesn’t we’re probably going to see a couple of real lean years in the state,” Harrison said. “We’ll have to make a lot of tough decisions when we’re looking at the numbers we’re looking at now. You’re not cutting into fat, you’re going to be cutting into some lean.
“It’s going to be a tough couple of years.”
In other Hawkins County election news, Mount Carmel Mayor Gary Lawson was re-elected unopposed, but he will have two new aldermen on his board beginning next year. With three alderman seats up for grabs, challengers Kathy Roberts (1,247) and William Blakely (1,211) and incumbent Carl Wolfe (1,038) were elected, with Vice Mayor Eugene Christian (910) and former alderman Paul Hale (864) being defeated.
A lot of eyes in Hawkins County were on the Surgoinsville alderman race, with former mayor Hanes Cooper — the subject of a state comptroller’s investigation report — seeking one of the three contested alderman seats.
But it was challengers Marc Borghetti (495) and Joe McLain (482) and incumbent Don Thurman (436) taking the seats, with challenger Larry Dykes (381) and Cooper (188) being defeated.
In the Bulls Gap municipal races, Robin Horner was re-elected mayor without opposition, with her four board members to consist of Rickey Pete Shipley (189), Jimmy Sexton (178), Susan Williams (172) and Charles Johnson (167). The only candidate defeated in the Bulls Gap alderman race was John H. Barnes (135).
The only thing contested in the Rogersville Board of Education race was pride, with four candidates seeking the four available seats. The top vote-getter was Frank Testerman (1,093), followed by Reed Matney (1,085), newcomer Todd Biggs (1,038) and William Phillips II (1,024).
Biggs takes over for longtime board Chairman Dan Brooks, who opted not to seek another term.
And although the nation was quite a bit more closely divided on the subject, Hawkins County’s choice for president was overwhelmingly John McCain, with McCain receiving 14,745 votes to Barack Obama’s 5,924.
A total of 61.88 percent of Hawkins County’s 34,357 registered voters cast their ballot for Tuesday’s election, or 21,259 votes.