State Sen. Jim Tracy issued a concession statement this afternoon in the tight three-way Republican primary battle for the 6th District U.S. House race, although he left open the possibility that he would "reassess the situation" if irregularities came to light.
"We've had a tough primary battle," stated Tracy in a news release, "but it is now time to look ahead to November and I encourage all the candidates to get behind our Republican nominee for Congress in the 6th District, Senator Diane Black. If there is something that comes to light during the election certification process, then our campaign will reassess the situation at that time. There is a lot at stake in this year's election for our state and nation, and I am confident that the Tennessee Division of Elections will act in a prompt manner to ensure a swift and accurate certification.
"This was possibly the closest three-way race in Tennessee history and one of the closest congressional three-way races in American history. Obviously, it is difficult to lose a razor-thin election like this. However, it is imperative that we come together and put our focus on the general election in November. I want to thank all my outstanding supporters, interns, volunteers, and staff. The support we received in this campaign was overwhelming, and we could not have done this without all their hard work, time, financial support, friendship, and their prayers."
Unofficial election night figures indicated that Black, of Gallatin, was the winner of a tight three-way contest, but neither Tracy nor Lou Ann Zelenik has conceded due to the narrow margin.
The unofficial district-wide results available from the state web site show Black with 24,373 votes; Zelenik with 24,089; and Tracy with 23,808. (The next-closest finisher was Dave Evans of Wartrace, with 3,974.)
"We're pretty happy with the campaign that we ran, Tracy said on Monday. We were outspent quite a bit, between the two."
Blake Fontenay, communications director for the state election office, said Monday that while none of the numbers are official, it's still the state's belief that the provisional ballots still to be counted are not enough to change the outcome of the election as announced on election night. He said the report Friday in a Nashville newspaper saying that only 40 provisional ballots remained to be counted, not enough to make a difference regardless of which candidate receives them, was accurate.
He noted, however, that nothing is official until the county election commissions certify their results and submit them to the state, and they have until the third Monday after the election, Aug. 23, to do so.
"There could be changes," said Fontenay.
Fontenay said there were no changes this year in the way that the state is handling provisional ballots, and that they are being handled in strict compliance with the law.