The 2 expelled members of the ‘Tennessee 3’ win back their state House seats

Tennessee Reps. Justin Pearson and Justin Jones, formerly expelled members of the “Tennessee Three,” reclaimed their state House seats in a special election.

Achieving victory: The young Democratic lawmakers were reinstated on an interim basis after being expelled for involvement in a gun control protest, going on to win in districts favoring Democrats.
* Jones, from Nashville, defeated Republican Laura Nelson while Memphis’ Pearson emerged victorious against independent candidate Jeff Johnston.

Context of the election: The special election took place in anticipation of a potentially transformative legislative session focusing on changing the state’s gun control laws.
* Despite the existence of a Republican supermajority in the legislatures, Jones and Pearson’s return is expected to stir a stronger pushback against some GOP policies.

Background to the expulsion: Pearson and Jones, along with fellow Democrat Rep. Gloria Johnson, gained prominence after joining a protest for increased gun control on the House floor following a fatal shooting in Nashville.
* The protest led to their expulsion for alleged violation of House rules, leaving about 140,000 voters in primarily Black districts in Nashville and Memphis temporarily without representation.
* The GOP’s decision to expel Pearson and Jones faced criticism from Democrats who insisted that race was a factor, a claim that the House GOP has continually denied.

By the numbers: The expulsion resulted in increased national support for the “Tennessee Three,” leading to over $2 million raised by Pearson and Jones from approximately 70,400 campaign donations nationwide, surpassing Tennessee’s usual fundings for Republican legislative leaders and Democrats in superminorities.
* More than 15 Republican lawmakers contributed to Jones’ Republican opponent Nelson’s campaign, who raised $34,000.
* Pearson’s opponent, Johnston, raised less than $400 for the contest.

This election’s effects: Thursday’s election also influences the race for two other legislative seats previously held by Democrats and Republicans in Nashville and Eastern Tennessee, respectively.

View original article on NPR

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