NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Andy Ogles, a conservative who gained popularity among Tennessee Republicans as an outspoken former county mayor, has won a newly redrawn congressional district that includes part of left-leaning Nashville.
Ogles, a onetime leader of the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity’s state chapter, secured the seat after largely dodging questions on key policy issues that included whether he supported a national ban on abortion and if he supported exceptions to save the life of the mother.
Ogles took a low-key approach to the general election after emerging victorious from a crowded and bruising Republican primary. While he issued a warning ahead of the general election — “Liberals, we’re coming for you” — Ogles avoided sharing the stage with his Democratic opponent Heidi Campbell and gave interviews mostly to conservative media outlets.
“We are going to take this country back,” Ogles said during a victory speech. “We are going to fix this economy. We are going to close this border. And we’re going to fire Nancy Pelosi.”
The strategy was successful largely due to the GOP-led redistricting process, which provided enough cushion for a Republican. Some voters in Nashville cast early ballots in the wrong congressional district, leaving election officials scrambling before Tuesday to correct the errors and leading to at least one lawsuit.
Carving Nashville into three districts led incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper to announce his retirement and created an opportunity for Republicans to flip a congressional seat.
Ogles has refused to directly answer whether he believes President Joe Biden won the 2020 election and instead has falsely stated that voter fraud took place across the U.S.
Furthermore, Ogles called for the impeachment of Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as treason charges against the Department of Homeland Security secretary over the administration’s handling of immigration issues.
He has made remarks that exemptions for rape and incest in abortion bans are a “red herring” and that the “next thing we have to do is go after gay marriage” by allowing each state to decide on the legality of marriage for same-sex couples.
The former Maury County mayor also focused heavily on his opposition to government requirements that were implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Campbell, a state senator from Nashville, had hoped that highlighting Ogles’ stances on abortion and gay marriage — as well as his support of dissolving the U.S. Department of Education — would help gain enough support among wary voters in a new district that now snakes across six counties. The Democrat even outraised and outspent Ogles in the last quarter.
However, in Republican-dominant Tennessee, her attempt still fell short with voters outside of Nashville.
Former President Donald Trump endorsed Ogles after initially endorsing his former State Department spokesperson, Morgan Ortagus, in the primary. Ortagus and two other candidates in the race were booted off the primary ballot by state GOP officials over their voting records.
Meanwhile, the incumbent House lawmakers seeking reelection all won their races.
Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Green defeated Democratic activist Odessa Kelly in a district that also now includes parts of Nashville.
And GOP U.S. Rep. John Rose defeated Democrat Randall Cooper in the third seat that includes Nashville, meaning that the city will be completely represented by Republicans in Congress.
GOP U.S. Reps. David Kustoff, Scott DesJarlais, Chuck Fleischmann, Tim Burchett and Diana Harshbarger all were successful in their reelection bids. Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen in Memphis won Tuesday, and will be the state’s last remaining Democratic congressman.
Follow AP’s coverage of the elections at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections
Jonathan Mattise And Kimberlee Kruesi, The Associated Press