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Early voting starts Jan. 4 for Dist. 86 special election

Early voting begins Wednesday (Jan. 4) for the special primary election to fill the state House of Representatives seat (District 86) left vacant by the death of long-time Rep. Barbara Cooper, who died Oct. 25.

Ten candidates are on the Democratic primary ballot. The winner of the Democratic primary will automatically win the seat since there are no candidates in the Republican primary.

Early voting continues until Jan. 19; primary Election Day is Jan. 24.

The winner of the primary will run unopposed in the March 14 special general election and takes his/her seat in the General Assembly after the Shelby County Election Commission certifies the results.

The district covers north Shelby County, Frayser, Downtown and Southwest Memphis.

Here are the early-voting locations:

  • 7942 Church Rd Millington;
  • Riverside Missionary Baptist Church, 3560 S, Third St.;
  • Shelby County Election Commission James Meredith Bldg., 157 Poplar Ave.

Despite her death in October, Cooper easily won re-election, racking up 73 percent of the vote against independent candidate Michael Porter.

Long-time friend and Tennessee House colleague Rep. G. A. Hardaway said it could be anyone’s race.

“Just the sheer number of variables lets us know that this could be anybody’s race,” said Hardaway. “You’ve got several familiar names and then others who might be outstanding leaders in their own communities.

“Turnout is a factor, and how voters are thinking matters. We won’t find another Rep. Barbara Cooper. Whoever wins will have some very big shoes to fill.”

Meanwhile, until the special-election winner is certified, the Shelby County Commission could appoint someone to fill the vacant seat.

Eleven people qualified as primary candidates, but only 10 appear on the ballot. They are:

  • Rod Blount – businessman and insurance broker.
  • Julian T. Bolton – attorney and former Shelby County Commissioner.
  • Tanya L. Cooper – daughter of Rep. Cooper.
  • Juliette Eskridge – case worker for Carver College Career Academy.
  • Dominique Frost – public relations manager for Shelby County Government.
  • Clifford Lewis – business owner.
  • Justin J. Pearson – environmental advocate and community leader.
  • Will Richardson – a home healthcare business owner.
  • Rebecca Robinson – an activist working for positive change.
  • Andrew “Rome” Withers – a photographer and son of famed photographer Ernest Withers.

Requests for an absentee ballot must be submitted to the Election Commission by Jan. 17.

For more information, visit electionsshelbytn.gov. Or, call the Shelby County Election Commission at 901-222-1200.

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