As election day arrived, it appeared that Scott County was going to follow a national trend with increased voter turnout for the 2018 midterm.
According to Scott County Administrator of Elections Gabe Krahn, some 2,899 Scott Countians cast ballots during the early voting period that ended Thursday — more than double the amount of voters that voted during the early-voting period four years ago.
In the 2014 mid-term election, a total of 1,317 Scott Countians cast ballots during the early voting period.
A contentious election cycle was thought to be responsible for driving voter turnout nationwide. A polarized nation found Democrats eager to repudiate the Trump presidency, while Republicans found an enthusiasm surge in the wake of the raucous confirmation process for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who was appointed by Trump to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In Tennessee, a hotly-contested Senate race and closely-watched gubernatorial race has increased turnout.
While many more voters cast ballots in the early voting period this year compared to four years ago, the early vote total trailed the early voting period in 2016, when the presidential battle between Trump and Hillary Clinton was on the ballot. That year, a total of 4,163 voters in Scott County cast ballots during the two-week early voting period.
Republican nominee Bill Lee was expected to cruise to victory in the gubernatorial race to succeed Bill Haslam, who is term-limited. The latest polls going into the election had Lee far ahead of Democratic challenger Karl Dean, including an Emerson Poll that found Lee up by 13 points and a Fox News poll that had the Franklin businessman ahead by 17 points.
The same was not true in the Senate race, where Democratic nominee Phil Bredesen appeared to be running a tight race against his Republican opponent, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, as election day arrived. A spate of recent polls found the former governor trailing Blackburn but within the margin of error, though two recent polls by Emerson and Fox News found Blackburn ahead by eight points and nine points, respectively.
Tennessee was viewed as the lynchpin to Democrats’ hopes of capturing control of the U.S. Senate as Tuesday’s election drew to its end. Republicans entered the election with a narrow, 51-49 edge in the Senate. Polls indicated that the GOP might gain at least two seats in the Senate, while Democrats admitted that there was likely not a path to a majority in the upper chamber without Bredesen claiming an upset victory in the race to replace Bob Corker, the Republican from Chattanooga, who opted against re-election after a high-profile spat with Trump.
Locally, Tuesday also found a municipal election in Winfield drawing to a close, with the mayoral seat and two of four aldermen’s seats on the ballot. The town’s vice mayor, newly-elected Scott County Road Superintendent Kelvin King, is currently acting as mayor, following the death of Mayor David Cecil last month. King was not a candidate for re-election.
While Cecil's name was on the ballot — he was seeking re-election at the time of his death, which followed his battle with cancer — so were the names of two other candidates, Bob Strunk and Ronnie Cooper. Strunk is currently an alderman.
Running for the aldermen’s seats that were up for grabs were incumbent Chad Jones and challengers Harold Chambers, Doug Wilson Jr. and Stacy McBroom Love.