Election could swing balance of power at TN Capitol - WSMV Channel 4

Election could swing balance of power at TN Capitol

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With the start of early voting just a week away, more flyers and television ads from local candidates are likely arriving soon.

Despite the big race between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney getting the most attention, there are several important races that could impact the future of state politics.

Republicans are a few seats away from having a two-thirds majority in both chambers at the Tennessee Capitol, and the balance of power could hinge on some races right here in Middle Tennessee.

"That is one of our goals, to have what I call a supermajority or a walkout-proof majority," said Chris Devaney, chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party.

Key battles that could shift the balance of power include those in Davidson and surrounding counties.

"Davidson County is kind of the line of Democratic politics in our state. You've got Shelby County and Davidson County, so it's extremely important to us," said Chip Forrester, chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party.

In the state Senate, Steve Dickerson and Phillip North are competing for Joe Haynes' former seat that includes Bellevue and Goodlettsville.

In Clarksville, incumbent Tim Barnes is seeing a challenge from Mark Green for his state Senate seat.

And in the state House, one hotly contested Davidson County race pits Metro Councilman Bo Mitchell and Charles Williamson in the Bellevue and Goodlettsville area.

"These are all competitive races. They are not slam-dunk races, but we have good candidates that are working hard on the ground," Devaney said.

Many believe the names at the top of the ticket will drive voter turnout for the November election. While the state will almost certainly vote for Mitt Romney, some Democrats feel a narrower gap this year would help their candidates at the state level.

"We feel very confident that we'll pick up seats in November and win some races," Forrester said.

The upcoming general election will also be the first since redistricting moved some incumbents into new areas. The impact remains to be seen, but some say the lines were drawn to favor Republicans.

However, Devaney said those changes could mean a drawback in close races, because many incumbents find themselves in completely different districts and must introduce themselves to their new constituents.

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