AP’s Tennessee election day story

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republican U.S. Sen Lamar Alexander said Monday he’s not concerned about the margin of the outcome of Tuesday’s election — so long as he emerges the winner.

Alexander, who faces Democratic challenger Gordon Ball, was among the candidates and advocates making their final pitches on the last full day of campaigning before Election Day.

Alexander won the Republican primary against underfunded state Rep. Joe Carr by 9 percentage points in August, a result widely considered much closer than expected for an incumbent with a 40-year political history in the state. Alexander suggested that it was unfair to read too much into those results.

“In my political experience, anybody who wins an election by 5 or 6 percentage points has a good win, and if you win by 10 you have a massive win,” he said.

Ball, who has largely self-funded his campaign, has portrayed Alexander as out of touch with Tennessee voters on issues like immigration, Common Core education standards and his opposition to minimum wage laws.

Other races include Gov. Bill Haslam’s bid for second term, which has seen little in the way of organized campaigning by Democratic challenger Charlie Brown, and four proposed constitutional amendments concerning abortion regulation, judicial selection, banning a state income tax and allowing charitable gaming for veterans groups.

The first amendment on the ballot, which would give the state Legislature more power to regulate abortions, has drawn the most spending in the final weeks of the campaign and a steady barrage of television advertising.

In the final reporting period spanning Oct. 1 through Oct 25, opponents of the abortion amendment reported raising $2 million, mostly from Planned Parenthood organizations around the country, and spending $3.4 million.

The main group supporting the amendment reported raising $670,000 and spending $1 million. Meanwhile, a separate effort mostly funded by $500,000 from Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black and her husband, has spent $487,000 on direct mail to try to shore up support for the amendment.

Also up for election are all 99 state House seats and 17 of 33 Senate seats, though Republicans hold such vast majorities in both chambers that the results are unlikely to make a big difference in the partisan landscape at the state Capitol.

Tuesday also marks the conclusion for many communities of a multiyear fight over whether to allow wine to be sold along groceries in Tennessee supermarkets. Under a law passed this year, cities and counties that allow either liquor by the drink or package store sales can hold referendums on grocery store wine sales, and several dozen communities will decide on the matter on Tuesday.