They were helped by a near-sweep of state Senate and House seats in Northeast Tennessee.
Before the election, the GOP held a 20-13 majority in the state Senate and a 64-34 House majority with one independent — state Rep. Kent Williams of Elizabethton.
Tuesday’s statewide election results moved the majority to 26-7 in the Senate. House Republicans were expecting up to a five-seat gain late Tuesday night. Williams, a former state House speaker, held on to his seat despite opposition from the Tennessee Republican Party.
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said voters spoke with a loud and clear voice statewide.
“During the last two years, for the first time in history, Republicans have controlled the legislature and the governor’s mansion (with Republican Bill Haslam),” Ramsey said in an e-mailed statement. “Tennesseans have witnessed what Republican government can do and know we have delivered on our promises. Our message of more jobs, less spending and smaller government resonated not just with traditional Republicans but throughout the state in areas disappointed with the Democrat Party.
“After decades of Democrat Party rule in Tennessee, Republicans have won the war of ideas across this state’s grand divisions and changed the political culture.”
Republicans had huge fundraising advantages over Democratic opponents who were unable to wage competitive campaigns.
In the Kingsport area’s 2nd House District, GOP incumbent state Rep. Tony Shipley cruised to an easy victory by taking 16,753 votes to Democratic challenger Bruce Dotson’s 7,786 votes, according to unofficial returns from the Sullivan County Election Commission. Shipley, who won a third term, narrowly took the GOP nomination during the August Primary by 10 votes over Republican challenger Ben Mallicote.
Blountville Republican Timothy Hill easily defeated Democrat Leah Kirk and Green Party candidate Suzanne “Flower” Parker to win the 3rd House District seat vacated by Mountain City Republican Scotty Campbell.
According to the state elections board, Hill took 15,753 votes to 4,353 for Kirk and 829 for Parker in the redrawn district, which now includes portions of Carter County in addition to all of Johnson County and part of Sullivan County.
Hill is the brother of state Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, who won re-election in Washington County’s 7th House District.
The Hills will be the fourth set of brothers to serve in the General Assembly, according to House GOP Communications Director F. Brent Leatherwood.
“Please realize, though, that there have been thousands of Tennessee state legislators since the first 22 representatives and 11 senators in 1796,” Leatherwood said in an e-mail. “Relationships are not always noted ... In many instances in the (state’s) Biographical Directory, parents are not listed.”
State Republicans running unopposed included Ramsey in the 2nd Senatorial District. state Rep. Jon Lundberg in the 1st House District, state Rep. Mike Harrison in the 9th House District and Frank Niceley in the newly renumbered 8th Senatorial District.
For more go to www.elections.tn.gov.