By Steve Hunley

The 2020 election is history, at least here in Knox County, yet there are some interesting things to ponder in the vote totals. Who was the night’s biggest winner locally? My answer would be Tim Burchett. The freshman congressman did even better than he did two years ago when he was first elected to the U. S. House of Representatives and that was after a brutal and hard fought primary contest. Burchett faced the same opponent, Rene Hoyos, and despite the mainstream media’s and pollsters repeated assertion there was to be a “Blue Wave,” it never came. Apparently political polling is soon to be a thing of the past as it was about as inaccurate as it was four years ago. Hoyos, who had told a meeting of Democratic women she and Burchett were in a “statistical tie” must have a pretty bad pollster herself. Hoyos had no trouble raising money and in fact appears to have out-raised Burchett. Two years ago, Hoyos won 33% of the vote; this year she won 31% of the vote. I like the direction Rene is headed.

Rene’s idea the Second Congressional District is turning blue hasn’t proved to be true and let’s not forget, we saw a record turnout in voters. Burchett excels at one-on-one campaigning and has an able young campaign manager in Andrew Davis.

Rene might keep running for Congress every two years – – – she pays herself out of her campaign treasury – – – until some enterprising Democrat beats her in a primary, although I suppose she could go out and get a real job.

The biggest loser of the night wasn’t even on the ballot: Mayor Glenn Jacobs. It was Jacobs and his cronies who prompted the failed ballot referendum on whether or not the law director’s office should be appointed or continue to be elected. The result was about as unanimous a verdict as is possible in any election contest with more than 81% of Knox Countians voting against an appointed law director. That is actually a higher percentage of voters than it was ten years ago when roughly 73% of folks voted against it. Jacobs was likely urged on by his now former Chief of Staff Bryan “Let-Me-Borrow-Your-Golf-Cart” Hair and Mike Arms, who held the same position under former county mayor Mike Ragsdale. The Ragsdale administration wasn’t the high mark of ethics in Knox County’s history and “Golf Cart” Hair apparently read the How-To manual scribbled by Mike Arms. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it one more time: Mike Arms is to good government what Colonel Sanders was to the welfare of chickens. And with the Charter Review Committee being inappropriately stacked in favor of the point of view advocated by Glenn Jacobs – – – appointing the law director – – – it made it to the ballot. Of course, the Jacobians, led by that self-proclaimed genius of government and political strategy, Mike Arms, didn’t realize the law director actually wrote the language for the ballot. Bud Armstrong, then law director, wrote the ballot question in language a three year-old could understand. I’m pretty sure our dog Sophie could understand it. Yet Arms, who was on the county’s payroll as chief of staff for eight years, overlooked that essential part of the equation. Arms went from pillar to post to complain Armstrong’s language was “misleading,” which is akin to accusing someone of lying when they said it is dark outside at midnight. Arms, trailed by developer Scott Davis and political fixer John Valliant trudged across the street in an attempt to beguile the members of the board of education of the wonders they could work if they only had an attorney of their very own. As it turns out, the board won’t be getting its own attorney for Christmas after all. Yes, Mikie, there is a Santa Claus and he put coal in your stocking.

The ballot question was posed simply and accurately and the voters responded accordingly. That 81% represented a majority of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents in Knox County. That same 81% had to represent every voting demographic in the county and it certainly lost in the Black wards heavily, and was thoroughly rejected by everybody. It takes real talent to come up with something to which over 81% of the people are opposed. (Haha)

The esoteric arguments about saving money by giving the county commission and board of education their own lawyers – – – and allowing the county mayor to make the law director his own personal and political attorney – – – are going to sound pretty feeble for those politicians and would-be politicians who supported placing the Charter amendment on the ballot. The only halfway decent, albeit admittedly lame, argument anyone can make is they thought the voters had a right to decide the question for themselves. Well, decide it they did and it was defeated by a higher percentage than eight years ago.

Glenn Jacobs is a very personable man, but he has no institutional memory, nor does he seem to have a grasp of how to get things done. Virtually everything he has tried to do has not gone all that well. Leftists, angered by the mayor’s stand on the county Health Department, sport signs in their yards stating, “The Wrestler Mayor is a Moron,” while many Republicans are aghast as Jacobs careens from one thing to the next. Just how much of Glenn Jacobs’ administration’s political failures are due to “Golf Cart” Hair and Mike Arms and company, only the mayor knows, but he needs to clean house before his friends burn it down around his head. That’s where all that smoke is coming from, Glenn.

Another big winner on election night was Eddie Mannis, who was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives to replace Martin Daniel, who is retiring. Martin Daniel was a good legislator and Eddie Mannis really worked hard to win the seat to represent Tennessee’s 18th District. Mannis had to overcome an tough primary with Gina Oster and a handful of Republican Party officials who questioned his GOP credentials despite Republicans like Tim Burchett and former governor Bill Haslam vouching for him. Mannis lost a hotly contested race for mayor of Knoxville last year and rebounded with a decisive victory over attorney Virginia Couch. It is my own opinion Eddie Mannis was the strongest candidate Republicans could have run for the 18th House District seat.

Elaine Davis ran a very good, although ultimately losing race, against Democrat Gloria Johnson, while GOP incumbents Dave Wright, Jason Zachary, and Justin Lafferty were easily reelected. Former County Commissioner Michele Carringer was elected to take the place of the retiring Bill Dunn, defeating Elizabeth Rowland. Becky Duncan Massey was reelected to the Tennessee State Senate, beating Jane George, she of the unusual round yard signs. Sam McKenzie won the general election to fill the seat of Representative Rick Staples, whom he defeated in the Democratic primary. McKenzie romped to a big win in a decidedly Democratic district over Independent candidate Troy Jones, even though he didn’t have the endorsement of Matthew Park, the runner-up to McKenzie in the Democratic primary.

Bill Hagerty won the United States Senate seat held by the retiring Senator Lamar Alexander, beating activist Marquita Bradshaw. Evidently Marquita knows something the rest of us don’t know, as she’s refusing to concede the election. Perhaps she is taking a page from the book penned by Stacy Abrams, the former candidate for governor of Georgia who insists she is the legitimate governor, despite losing by some 50,000 votes. The margin between Hagerty and Bradshaw was enormous, although the first Black woman candidate for the U. S. Senate as a Democrat carried Shelby County with 61% of the vote. Look at the bright side Marquita, it gives you more time to go sky diving with Matthew Park.