Early Voting Begins Friday for GOP Primary Bid to Replace Former State Sen. Mark Norris, Who is Now a Federal Judge

Early voting begins today for the primary in the State Senate District 32 race to replace Mark Norris.

Formerly the Senate Majority Leader, Norris (R-TN-32) was appointed by the U.S. Senate in October as a federal judge in the Western District of Tennessee, The Tennessee Star reported in October. His appointment had languished since July 2017.

Four Republicans filed paperwork to replace Norris, The Star reported last month. The general election is scheduled for March 12. Tipton and part of Shelby County make up that district.

Michael Nelson of the Daily Memphian said in a column that he likes the chances of one candidate in particular:

Because Norris held the seat so long, a number of credible candidates for the Republican nomination have lined up now that it’s vacant. The favorite is former Shelby County Commissioner Heidi Shafer, but in what’s sure to be a low-turnout contest, any or all of her three rivals could make a run for the money: former state representative Steve McManus, Tipton County construction executive Paul Rose, and defeated Shelby County Trustee candidate (also a former commissioner) George Chism.

Why do I rate Shafer the favorite? Precisely because it will be a low-turnout affair in which her greater name recognition, high professional reputation as commission chair last year and, especially, her willingness to campaign tirelessly should be more than enough to make the difference.

Shafer told The Star last month she believes West Tennessee “is getting left behind in a burgeoning economy, particularly when it comes to economic incentives and infrastructure.”

“We have had some really strong previous folks from West Tennessee (in the state legislature) so it’s not like we haven’t been represented, but I think we need different tactics. Part of the problem has been that we are not speaking with one voice. We are all trying to onesy-twosey it,” Shafer said.

Shafer appeared in October as a guest on Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am. She spoke about the process to replace Norris. The transcript and audio of the full segment are available here.

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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes. 








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