Overbey wins new term in Senate District 2

State Sen. Douglas Overbey, branded Tennessee’s most liberal Republican legislator by a conservative lobbying group, easily defeated an intra-party challenger in Thursday’s primary election and is assured of a new four-year term in office.

Complete but unofficial returns Thursday night showed Overbey, unopposed in the November general election, won about 61 percent of the vote to 39 percent for Scott Williams, an Army veteran and business consultant who, like the incumbent, lives in Maryville.

Overbey had 5,978 votes in Blount County versus 3,976 for Williams while the senator gathered 2,146 votes in Sevier County compared to 1,179, according to election commission officials in the two counties. Combined, the total results: Overbey 8,124; Williams 5,155.

In the campaign, Overbey enjoyed support from Gov. Bill Haslam and several of his Republican Senate colleagues, including financial donations that helped him build a huge campaign spending advantage over Williams. So far this year, Overbey has reported just over $228,000 in total expenditures compared to just over $11,000 by Williams.

But Overbey came under attack from Americans for Prosperity, which gave him an ‘F’ rating on its 2016 “scorecard” for state legislators – in substantial part because the senator sponsored Haslam’s Insure Tennessee proposal last year, a bill that failed after AFP labeled it “Obamacare expansion.”

The group sponsored attack advertising via mail, radio and the internet and said in a news release that its supporters knocked on doors of 5,000 voters in Blount and Sevier counties to spread word about the organization’s views on Overbey.

Williams also criticized the incumbent as not representing views of conservative district voters and won endorsements – along with campaign contributions — from the Tennessee Firearms Association and Citizens for Home Rule, a group that opposes city annexation efforts. The firearms association, a state-based Second Amendment advocacy group, disputed the ‘A’ rating given Overbey by the National Rifle Association.

Overbey said AFP was “a special interest group helping my opponent spread lies about my position.” He and Haslam contend it is wrong to equate the governor’s Insure Tennessee proposal with Obamacare.
Overbey, 61, an attorney by profession, won the Senate District 2 seat in 2008 by defeating then-incumbent Raymond Finney in the Republican primary. Finney endorsed Williams in this year’s election.