GOP keeps Knoxville candidate on ballot

The state Republican Party’s executive committee on Wednesday voted to uphold Eddie Mannis’ primary victory in an open race for a Knoxville-area state House seat.

Area Republicans questioned Mannis eligibility to run in the Republican primary both before and after his August victory by just 99 votes over real estate agent Gina Oster. He was previously deemed ineligible before top Republicans including Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett vouched for him.

After the narrow victory, Oster challenged the results, arguing that Democrats crossed over to vote for Mannis. But the executive committee voted the challenge down, 43-18.

Republicans were quick to draw comparisons to their Democratic counterparts’ decision earlier this year to disallow longtime Memphis Democratic Rep. John DeBerry from running in the Democratic primary. Republicans quickly passed a law allowing DeBerry to run as an independent.

Mannis finished second in the Knoxville mayoral election last year. He will face Democrat Virginia Couch in the November general election.

Democrats see the seat as a top pickup opportunity, as retiring incumbent Republican Rep. Martin Daniel secured just 51 percent of the vote in his 2018 re-election.

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