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Biden Takes TN in Democratic Primaries, and More

Gabrielle Topping

With more than 40 percent of the vote, former Vice President Joe Biden came out on top in Tennessee’s primary Tuesday night.

Damage from early morning tornadoes in middle Tennessee kept polling locations in Nashville open until 10 o’clock. Still, Biden claimed an early victory over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and his more centrist rival Michael Bloomberg by double digits.

Here in Shelby County, the state’s largest Democratic voting base, Biden captured nearly 50 percent of the vote. He had more than twice as many votes as Sanders, who bested Bloomberg by a small margin.

That’s despite Bloomberg’s significant investments of time and marketing in Memphis, with two campaign stops and a flood of campaign ads.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren came in a distant fourth. Some local supporters complained that her name appeared on the second page of Shelby County’s ballot, behind Amy Klobuchar and Pette Buttigieg, both of whom already dropped out of the race. Combined, the three candidates accounted for 15 percent of the state-wide vote.

The head of Shelby County’s Democratic Party, Michael Harris, says Biden had an edge in Tennessee and Shelby County going into the race, given his popularity with African American and older voters.

Harris says the party should now start to rally around their nominee for the November election.

"We share similar values, and the candidates that are running as Democrats are candidates that we can believe in, and that we can trust," Harris said.

Some Sanders supporters, such as Stephen Baggett, say they will struggle to shift their vote to Biden if Bernie loses nationally.

"I think the type of change that I want to see, especially within the Democratic Party—where I want it to shift—is the issues that Bernie Sanders has brought to the table," Baggett said. "Biden doesn't bring anything new to that."

Biden also won all of the other southern states that held primaries Tuesday, including North Carolina, Arkansas, Alabama and Virginia.

In other Shelby County elections, President Donald Trump received 21,274 votes in the Republican primary, with the three other candidates each receiving a few hundred apiece.

In the primary for General Sessions Court Clerk, Paul C. Boyd won the Republican nomination with 9,514 votes and Joe Brown is the Democratic nominee with 20,602.

This post has been updated.


Reporting from the gates of Graceland to the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Christopher has covered Memphis news, arts, culture and politics for more than 20 years in print and on the radio. He is currently WKNO's News Director and Senior Producer at the University of Memphis' Institute for Public Service Reporting. Join his conversations about the Memphis arts scene on the WKNO Culture Desk Facebook page.