The race to fill the vacancy in Senate District 19 created by Senator Thelma Harper’s retirement is heating up. The two front runners in the Democratic Primary, State Representative Brenda Gilmore and Pastor and educator Howard Jones, are locked in a dead heat according to many political observers in the district.
A recent Tennessee Tribune/Tennessee Star poll, conducted by Triton Polling from July 13-16, showed Gilmore leading in the race but that the high number of undecideds meant the race was “wide open.” In that poll, Gilmore received support from 37.5%, Jones 12.5% and 46% undecided.
Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gil noted at the time that with Gilmore already representing a large portion of the Senate district, and with the high name recognition that she has due to her political involvement for two decades as a Metro Council member and state legislator, combined with the visibility of her daughter, Metro Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, the relatively low level of support signaled danger for Gilmore. “She has many of the advantages of an incumbent,” Gill said, “and any incumbent polling at that level should be very, very worried.”
Since that poll, Jones has received the endorsement of Senator Harper, who has represented the 19th District for nearly three decades. That endorsement is expected to carry significant weight in the district.
And now Jones has also been endorsed by the Tennessean. The Tennessean specifically pointed out the credentials of Jones in making their endorsement:
While Jones has not previously served in public office, he has a unique background that would make him an effective legislator.
He is a public school educator, a pastor and a community activist who has worked in the trenches to provide affordable housing, hire ex-felons and find ways to provide more opportunity for people who are hurting because of the rising cost of living.
Jones has worked in the juvenile court system and Metro Nashville Public Schools, and he has led the Fairfield M. B. Church for three decades. The church has built affordable housing in downtown and owns Kingdom Cafe, formerly Harper’s Restaurant.
The winner of the Democratic Primary on Thursday is expected to cruise to victory in November.