Steve Dickerson declared an early victory Tuesday night in Senate District 20  and led the way to a historic majority for Republicans in the upper house of the state legislature.
Republicans won 15 out of 16 state Senate contests, picking up six seats for a total of 26 to the Democrats’ seven. The two-thirds “supermajority” will allow them to pass legislation at will, rendering Democrats effectively irrelevant. The only Senate race Republicans did not win Tuesday night was the one in which they didn’t run — District 30, where Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, who made a deal with Republicans during redistricting in order to avoid facing Republican opposition, ran unopposed.
Dickerson’s victory was significant as a symbolic victory as well. The district, which was represented by Democratic Sen. Joe Haynes for 28 years before it was dramatically redrawn by Republicans during last year’s redistricting. For reeling Democrats, yielding a Senate seat in Davidson County, one of their few remaining strongholds, will sting. For Dickerson, who ran in 2010 against longtime Democratic Sen. Douglas Henry, Tuesday’s victory was the culmination of a two-cycle plan that ultimately proved successful.
“There is no question that over the last eleven months we have worked tirelessly to deliver our message to the voters of the 20th District.” Dickerson said just over an hour after the polls closed in Tennessee. “Tonight will be a night of celebration for myself, my staff, and our tremendous base of volunteers that have continued to work day in and day out to ensure that we came out victorious; so that Davidson County could have a strong, sensible voice in the State Senate.”
The North campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who ran unopposed to re-election in Senate District 4, trumpeted the TNGOP’s “historic gains” in a statement released Tuesday night. The so-called “supermajority” is the first for Republicans in the Senate since reconstruction. With Republicans also achieving a two-thirds majority in the state House, next year will mark the first time either party has held a supermajority in both houses in 35 years.
Republican victories were also accented by the margins with which they achieved them. Of the 15 Senate races they won Tuesday, none came within five points.
“After decades of Democrat Party rule in Tennessee, Republicans have won the war of ideas across this state’s Grand Divisions and changed the political culture,” said Ramsey. “The Tennessee Democrat Party has abandoned any pretense of supporting traditional values or conservative fiscal policy. As Democrat leaders have lined up with the pro-abortion, tax and spend liberals in Washington, D.C., their voters have responded to our message of lower taxes, balance budgets and economic growth.”
Ramsey continued, “The historical majorities we achieved tonight are a culmination of years of hard work and responsible governance. Republicans have many successes under our belt but there is still much left to do.”