State Democratic leader undeterred by 62nd District loss

Thursday, October 15, 2009

NASHVILLE (AP) -- Democratic House candidate Ty Cobb had an abundance of campaign cash, a coveted endorsement from a prominent anti-abortion rights organization and a family history that includes his father and brother perviously holding the seat he sought. He still lost by 15 percentage points.

House Democratic Caucus Leader Mike Turner nevertheless declared Wednesday that he's undeterred in his goal of regaining control of the chamber in 2010.

Shelbyville businessman Pat Marsh won the House District 62 seat Tuesday night to give Republicans a 51-48 advantage in the House. Reeling Democrats have now lost five House seats since November.

"It's not like your dog getting run over, but it's a disappointment," Turner told reporters the day after the vote. Democrats had hoped that Cobb's name recognition and the endorsement by Tennessee Right to Life would give him the edge in the race.

"We had a popular guy, but they ended up having the most popular guy," said Turner, of Nashville. "This is not a fatal wound, it is merely a setback. We'll overcome it and we'll go forward."

Turner said he doesn't expect the loss to affect fundraising or candidate recruitment.

"The people who are true Democrats will continue giving to us and maybe give to us in greater numbers," Turner said. "We're going to raise a lot more money."

Turner's counterpart, House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada of Franklin, said the win shows the GOP platform is resonating with Tennesseans.

"The mood of the state is going toward the conservative pro-business folks," Casada said. "We're fiscally conservative, we're socially conservative and this is the reason why the voters of Tennessee should vote Republican.

"It's proven to be a winning message."

Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen congratulated Marsh on the win and said he will continue to emphasize bipartisanship in his dealing with the Legislature. He added after a speech in Nashville Wednesday afternoon that he doesn't think the this week's result indicates future Democratic performance.

"No one is pressing any panic button," he said. "Different seats come up at different times, the dynamic in each of these districts is very different.

"I think there's a certain amount of testiness out there at the moment and I think Ty might have been subject to that," he said. "I think every election stands on its own, I don't see any harbingers of the future."

Turner said low voter turnout in a special election complicated some of the grass roots efforts Democrats are working to implement. If the election had been held during a regularly scheduled general election, he said, "I'd like to think that the ground game we put together would have worked."

Tuesday's special election drew almost 9,000 voters, about 38 percent of the turnout in the last year's general election. But Casada said that number still reflects "a fair cross section of that district."

"I don't think if this had been in November, the outcome would have changed," he said. "It was a good win for Republicans."