In a race some considered a barometer for the prospects of House Republican candidates statewide, Republican Jim Gotto defeated Sam Coleman by 3 percentage points to take claim over the District 60 House seat.
With most precincts reported, Gotto had 8,791 votes to Coleman’s 8,316.
The clash between the two Metro Councilmen has turned an old Democratic stronghold red, with Gotto in place to take over the Donelson-Hermitage/Antioch seat held by departing conservative-leaning Democratic state Rep. Ben West Jr.
“I’m excited that people liked what I’ve done on the council well enough to elect me to go to the state House to represent them,” Gotto said.
“Jobs is the No. 1 priority,” he said. “I am very excited about Gov. [Bill] Haslam being the leader.”
Though West endorsed Coleman, the outgoing representative was outspoken leading up to the election about his concern that the seat could turn Republican as a result of disenchantment over Democratic-controlled Washington.
“It’s true that the Democrats held it for a long time,” Gotto said, but added that the Democratic-Republican balance within District 60 is closer than some perceived.
Coleman said he didn’t know how to explain the loss.
“All indications are we were ahead in our polls. We were ahead when we talked to people, went to the polls and knocked out doors,” Coleman said. “We don’t have an explanation as to what happened.”
Asked if his candidacy was hurt by running during a bad year for Democrats, Coleman didn’t point any fingers.
“I just can’t blame it on that,” Coleman said. “I’d just have to say Mr. Gotto did a better job than I did of getting people out.”
While serving in the state House, Gotto will also keep his Donelson-Hermitage seat on the Metro Council until August.