With most of the results in for today’s Tennessee primary, Bill Haslam has easily won the GOP gubernatorial nomination, winning (at this point) 48% of the vote, with Zach Wamp running second at 29% and Ron Ramsey third at 22%. Internet hero Basil Marceaux is running a little under one-half of one percent, with 3446 votes.
Another easy winner was 9th district Democratic congressman Steve Cohen, who eased past Willie Herenton by a 79-21 margin.
In the red-hot Republican House primaries, trial lawyer Chuck Fleischmann edged out Club-For-Growth backed Robin White in TN-03 by a 30-28 margin; national party favorite Stephen Fincher won half the total vote to overcome a torrent of money from Ron Kirkland (24%) and George Flinn (23%) in TN-08; and in TN-05, David Hall rode a big margin in Cheatham and Wilson Counties to win with 28%, beating Jeff Hartline and CeCe “Mama Grizzly” Heil, both of whom received 23%.
In TN-06, Diane Black appears to have edged out Lou Ann Zelenik by 813 votes, with Jim Tracy just 15 votes behind Zelenik. And in the Democratic primary in the 6th, the best-financed candidate, Bret Carter, appears to have defeated little-known Henry Clay Barry by 232 votes, with much-endorsed Ben Leming back another 115 votes.
WENDESDAY AM UPDATE: The national coverage of the Tennessee primary focused on Haslam’s surprisingly easy win; Cohen’s crushing of Herenton; Fincher’s triumph over heavily funded opponents; Black’s defeat of the Mosque-bashing and mudslinging Zelenik; Fleischmann’s win over the heavily DC-backed White; and Palin’s surrogate loss with Heil.
Looking at some of these contests more closely, Haslam’s win was truly statewide. Wamp carried his own congressional district and a couple of scattered counties elsewhere, and Ramsey won three counties in his northeast Tennessee base, but elsewhere it was all Haslam Country. Yes, he won 72% in his home county (Knox), but also 57% in Davidson (Nashville) and 49% in Shelby (Memphis).
Whatever else was going on, Black won in the 6th via geography, heavily carrying Sumner (61%) and Robertson (51%) Counties, while Zelenik and Jim Tracy split their base, Rutherford. In the Democratic primary, Brett Carter won primarily because of a very strong showing (53%) in Sumner county. Henry Clay Barry, who narrowly lost, had not filed a finance report showing any fundraising or expenditures as of mid-July; you have to figure his first spot on the ballot helped him a lot.
In the 8th, Fincher rolled up big margins in the north-central parts of the district, and Flinn’s strength was confined to the Memphis suburbs.
It’s hard to get a handle on turnout, since the Secretary of State’s election site crashed and no returns are posted for uncontested races (e.g., the Democratic gubernatorial nomination) elsewhere. About 725,000 votes were cast in the Republican gubernatorial primary (as compared to 321,000 in 2006) and early voting numbers suggest that perhaps another 250,000-300,000 votes were cast by Democrats in various parts of the state, but that’s a guess.