MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Former U.S. Attorney David Kustoff won the only open seat in Tennessee’s U.S. House delegation on Tuesday, defeating Democrat Rickey Hobson in the state’s 8th Congressional District.
Kustoff became the favorite in the solidly-Republican district after winning the GOP primary over 12 opponents in August. The primary win all but assured him of a seat in the U.S. House, where he is replacing U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, who decided not to seek a fourth term.
The district stretches from suburban Memphis through 14 other, mostly rural counties in west Tennessee.
“I want to make sure that America is safe, secure and prosperous,” Kustoff told The Associated Press before his victory party at an east Memphis hotel. “I advocate for the repeal of Obamacare.”
Kustoff ran television advertisements touting his “law-and-order” background. He served as U.S. attorney for west Tennessee from 2006 to 2008. During that time, his office prosecuted the Tennessee Waltz political corruption cases, which resulted in guilty pleas or convictions for 12 defendants including former state Sen. John Ford.
Kustoff received the endorsement of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and served as state director for Huckabee’s 2016 presidential campaign. He vowed during the campaign to reduce taxes on businesses and farms.
Hobson grew up in Somerville, which is in the 8th District. An employee of Delta Air Lines, Hobson said he supported local farmers and wants to help middle class families and small businesses by cutting taxes.
But voters were drawn to Kustoff’s background as a private attorney and federal prosecutor, which gave him name recognition in the Memphis suburbs and beyond.
Stephanie Peacock, a 45-year-old purchasing manager, voted for Kustoff at a church in suburban Memphis. He impressed her when he gave her legal help on a personal matter as a private attorney, free of charge.
“He went out of his way and bent over backwards, and I literally just walked in off the street,” said Peacock, who is not affiliated with a political party. “Someone who cares that much about other people can only do good for us in the community.”
All eight incumbents won re-election, leaving Tennessee’s delegation to Congress with its status quo of seven Republicans and two Democrats.
The six victorious GOP incumbents are Reps. Phil Roe in the 1st District, John Duncan Jr. in the 2nd, Chuck Fleischmann in the 3rd, Scott DesJarlais in the 4th, Diane Black in the 6th, and Marsha Blackburn in the 7th. Democrats returning to Congress are U.S. Reps. Jim Cooper in the 5th District and Steve Cohen in the 9th.
Vote totals in Shelby County, which includes Cohen’s seat, were delayed due to issues with an absentee ballot reader and a memory card that was left behind at a precinct. The card was shuttled to the county election office by a sheriff’s deputy.
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