2022 Tennessee Primary Elections Reveal Strong Desire for School Choice

Overwhelming results in Tennessee’s Republican primaries yesterday added to the growing momentum for educational choice in the Volunteer State. 

Tennessee voters showed up at the polls to validate their desire to prioritize the educational needs of students over systems and bureaucracies. A poll, commissioned by TennesseeCAN earlier this year, showed that 71% of Tennessee voters believe in parents’ rights for educational choice.

It is not often that an incumbent officeholder loses a primary, but that is what happened in Tennessee’s 40th House District. Michael Hale, a businessman from DeKalb County, secured the Republican nomination, receiving 60% of the vote, in a decisive win over 14 year veteran state lawmaker, Terri Lynn Weaver. 

Hale has been a strong supporter of school choice. “[The Voters] want someone who will fight for our schools, children, teachers, and parents,” said Hale in an April Interview. His eldest daughter, Jaley, is a teacher at Smithville Elementary School in the Dekalb County School District. 

In East Tennessee, challenger Bryan Richey defeated incumbent Rep. Bob Ramsey in the race for Tennessee State House District 20. Richey managed to unseat the veteran state lawmaker while embracing the need for educational choice across the district.

Richey, a Maryville real estate agent, earned 64.8% of the vote and will not face Democratic opposition in the November elections.

In the 15 competitive races where the TennesseeCAN Action Fund engaged, thirteen candidates won election outright last night or advanced to the November election. 

Both political parties in Tennessee can learn from these 2022 primary results. Listening to families and supporting the needs of children is increasingly important to Tennessee voters. Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the public’s definition of high-quality education is quickly shifting to a system that supports each family’s right to choose the school that works best for their child.