(T-G Photo by Kent Flanagan) [Order this photo]
In Bedford County, it was Marsh with 3,215 votes to Cobb with 2,508 votes and Brown with 183.
A jubilant crowd at Marsh headquarters on Lane Parkway included Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, former U.S. Rep. Van Hilleary, and House Majority Leader Jason Mumpower.
"This night is about Pat Marsh," said State Sen. Jim Tracy, who introduced the winner shortly after Cobb called him to concede. "Pat worked as hard as any candidate I've ever seen. This race goes to show you when you have a good man, hard working man, that negative campaigning doesn't work. Pat earned this election."
"It seems like I'm in a daze," said Marsh. "It's unbelievable all the support I've had.
"I'm shaking like a leaf."
The atmosphere was much quieter at Cobb's election night party.
"I didn't want to give this speech and I didn't have one prepared," said Cobb. "I think we've done everything we could do. I think there were some things that kind of held us back, some national issues that kind of ran over into this campaign and a lot of people couldn't see past it."
The garage and storage area at Bedford Quality Fencing on Highway 41-A South was transformed election night with red, white and blue balloons and bright yellow mums on long tables. Ty Cobb supporters ate barbecue and beans and visited, laughing and swapping stories -- until the precinct results were announced. As one, the group would fall silent, then cheer on the occasions when Cobb's numbers were greater than Marsh's. For the other precincts, heads would shake and voices would drop.
After the last Bedford County precinct was announced‚ Bell Buckle, the totals gave Marsh a lead of more than 700 votes in Bedford County. Cobb stepped in front of his supporters and spread out his arms.
Brown, meanwhile, didn't hold a specific election night party, choosing instead to attend scheduled services at his church, The Crossing. About 9:30, he posted a message on the Times-Gazette web site.
"I would like to thank everyone who voted, for me and for the others," Brown wrote.
The district includes all of Bedford County, much of Lincoln County and a small corner of Rutherford County. Marsh carried each of the three counties.
The vacancy was created over the summer when Cobb's brother, Curt Cobb, resigned the seat to take a position within the local court system.
Marsh's victory strengthens the Republican hold on the general assembly. Republicans had held a slim 50-49 margin in the House, so slim that a rogue Republican, Rep. Kent Williams, was able to be elected speaker with the backing of all 49 Democrats. Now, Republicans will hold a 51-48 margin, although Republican Caucus chair Rep. Glen Casada of Williamson County told the Nashville Scene that there's no way to replace the speaker at mid-term. Casada said there's an old attorney general's opinion on the topic and said the GOP leadership has not discussed any such action.
The statewide implications, and the fact that no other elections took place on Tuesday, brought a flurry of interest from the statewide party organizations, with a number of state officials and gubernatorial candidates traveling to the district to campaign. The state party organizations funded mailers, phone banks and even TV commercials.
Marsh praised family members who worked on his behalf, as well as his campaign staffers.
"Jim Tracy is a slave driver," said Marsh. "It was early to late every day except Sunday. We didn't do anything on Sunday. He did want me to go to some churches. I said to Jim, 'I'm just not going to do that."
Cobb thanked everyone for their hard work and support, then encouraged them to enjoy the party.
"Have a good time," he said. "It's not the end of the world. We're going to get through it."
David Stemper, a Cobb supporter, said he was disappointed.
"It was unexpected to lose by that much," he said. "I don't think there was anything else Ty could have done."
Stemper didn't think Cobb's non-appearances at several candidate forums hurt him.
"I think Ty played it smart. He did debate at the last one -- Marsh didn't show up because it was a impartial moderator in an impartial venue," he said.
Jerry Bowman hosted the election night gathering at his business.
"I still like him," he said. "Win, lose or draw."
Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele issued a statement praising Marsh's election and calling it a sign of future GOP success:
"I would like to congratulate Pat Marsh on his election to serve in the Tennessee General Assembly representing District 62," said Steele. "Pat's election is another example of the continuing popularity of conservative principles, not only in Tennessee, but nationwide. As we approach elections this fall and in 2010, I am confident we will see many more Americans choosing Republicans to represent their best interests. Candidates like Pat Marsh who are active proponents of lower taxes, smaller government and a strong free enterprise system are the future of the Republican Party and I look forward to helping them all toward victory."