NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Freshman U.S. Reps. Diane Black and Chuck Fleischmann on Thursday turned back vigorous attempts by Republican rivals to deny them another term in Congress.
Fleischmann defeated dairy executive Scotty Mayfield and Weston Wamp, the son of the former congressman representing the 3rd District in East Tennessee.
“I look forward to returning to Congress to continue to fight for the conservative values I’m committed to,” Fleischmann said in an emailed statement.
With all precincts reporting, Fleischmann had 29,943 votes, or 39 percent, compared with Mayfield’s 23,772 votes, or 31 percent. Wamp had 29 percent.
Edwinea Murray, a retired Tennessee Valley Authority worker who lives in Hixson, said she voted for Fleischmann because she was disgusted by the tone of rival campaigns.
“They were slamming their opponents in the commercials more than anything,” she said. “I think a lot of that is unnecessary.”
Black faced Lou Anne Zelenik in a 6th District race every bit as bitter as their previous encounter two years ago, featuring a heavy rotation of attack ads.
In the end, it wasn’t close. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Black had 39,734 votes, or 68 percent, compared with Zelenik’s 17,999, or 31 percent.
“Tonight, voters sent a message that they are happy with the way they are being represented in Congress,” Black said in a statement.
Eleanor Searles, an 87-year-old Hendersonville voter, said she didn’t like all the negative campaigning, but she voted for Black because she was familiar with her.
“I know they throw dirt at each other, but I know what’s there,” she said.
Willie Ledbetter, a 78-year-old Hendersonville woman who identified herself as a member of the Tea Party, said Black had done a good job, while she was turned off by Zelenik’s rhetoric.
Of Zelenik, a vocal critic of what she deems the political agenda of radical Islam in the United States, Ledbetter said, “Her whole campaign was negative.”
Tennessee voters also decided more than 60 legislative primaries and settled some local school issues in Thursday’s voting.
In the two dozen races where GOP state lawmakers were facing challenges, four incumbents were defeated. They included House Republican Caucus Chairwoman Debra Maggart of Hendersonville, who was beaten by a challenger backed by the National Rifle Association.
Two others were trailing, and two more were clinging to razor-thin leads.
Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker easily picked up his party’s nominations, while Democrats nominated floor installer Mark Clayton from among seven similarly unknown candidates.
Clayton said in an interview before the election that privacy issues are his main concern, and that he thinks people are being “over-identified by the government and tracked.”
In other U.S. House races, Republican Reps. Scott DesJarlais, Jimmy Duncan and Stephen Fincher won their primary contests, as did Democrat Steve Cohen. Republican Reps. Phil Roe and Marsha Blackburn and Democrat Jim Cooper had no primary opposition.