Republicans celebrate primary victories at Crowne Plaza

By Ken Lay

The 2024 Knox County Republican Primary had plenty of close races, many of which weren’t decided until late Tuesday night.

And when the dust had settled there was plenty of celebration and even some sighs of relief at the Crowne Plaza in Downtown Knoxville.

One winner didn’t have long to relish his victory, despite not facing another opponent in the general election in August.

Travis Wright defeated Tommy Lakins in the race for the seat representing District 8 on the Knox County Board of Education. He replaces Mike Millan, who passed away recently. He won Tuesday night and was sworn in Wednesday since no Democrat ran for the seat.

“Since there was no Democrat running, the county commission decided that whoever won the primary would be sworn in,” Wright said. “So, I’ll have to get to work, and I would normally have five months to prepare, but since Mr. McMillan passed away, I’ll get started right away.

“I know that I will have huge shoes to fill.”

Wright was in place at the board’s regular session meeting Thursday night.

Also in District 8, Adam Thompson, a late entry into the race for Knox County Commission, defeated D.J. Corcoran and Kara Daley Tuesday night. He’ll face Democrat Charles Chandler to replace Richie Beeler, who didn’t seek re-election, in August.

“We got a lot done in very little time,” Thompson said. “This was a tight race, but we were cordial.

“We were cordial because at the end of the day, we’re all neighbors and we all have the same issues. The next thing for me is to get some sleep.”

Thompson defeated Corcoran by less than 200 votes, so he breathed a sigh of relief.

“This was a close race and 200 votes was too close,” Thompson said.

In another close Knox County Commission race, Charles Frazier edged Justin Hirst by five votes.

Frazier, who will face Democrat Damon Rawls in August, couldn’t resist the chance to show his sense of humor after his close victory in the primary.

“What a landslide, man I tell you,” he said. “I won by five votes,” he said.

In all seriousness, however, Frazier said that he’s looking forward to “elevating the people of the First District.”

In the race to represent District 4 on the Knox County Commission, Garrett Holt defeated Liz Trombas handily, but he said that he didn’t have much time to celebrate as he will face a tight race this summer against Democrat Shane Jackson, who ran unopposed.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am that thousands of people have supported and put their faith in me,” Holt said. “But I know (the general election) will be a tough race for me.

“But I’ve been using the Kobe Bryant quote, ‘the work is not done,’ and the work is not done.”

Knox County Law Director David Buuck defeated challenger Daniel Herrera by a wide margin, but he said it wasn’t easy.

“When you’re running, you either run unopposed or you sweat,” Buuck said. “This was an overwhelming victory, and it would be my honor to defend Knox County and work for the taxpayers.”

Buuck will face Democrat Jackson Fenner this summer. Buuck defeated Fenner, who ran as an independent, in 2020.