Jeff Yarbro Defeats Mary Mancini In Senate District 21 Primary

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Jeff Yarbro Election Night

Photo: Sanford Myers/The Tennessean

The district has been solidly Democratic, re-electing Douglas Henry 11 consecutive times since 1970. The 88-year-old senator was the legislature's most senior leader, a self-described conservative Democrat known as much for his colorful character — gnawing on unlit cigars during committee hearings — as for his championing of conservative Democratic causes. Henry announced his retirement earlier this year to care for his wife, Lolly.

Mancini and Yarbro both ran an aggressive but respectful campaign that highlighted their difference in style rather than substance. Both support an expansion of Medicaid and speaking up for working-class residents in a Republican-dominated legislature.

The district has been solidly Democratic, re-electing Douglas Henry 11 consecutive times since 1970. The 88-year-old senator was the legislature's most senior leader, a self-described conservative Democrat known as much for his colorful character — gnawing on unlit cigars during committee hearings — as for his championing of conservative Democratic causes. Henry announced his retirement earlier this year to care for his wife, Lolly.

Mancini and Yarbro both ran an aggressive but respectful campaign that highlighted their difference in style rather than substance. Both support an expansion of Medicaid and speaking up for working-class residents in a Republican-dominated legislature.

But Yarbro struck a more conciliatory tone, saying he wanted Democrats to find a way to work effectively in the current legislature. Mancini made clear she was running not to work with some of the General Assembly's most conservative lawmakers, but to stop policies she considered extreme.

Yarbro, 37, a Nashville attorney with Bass, Berry and Simms, had more campaign experience. He came close to defeating Henry in the 2010 primary and is a veteran of Al Gore's presidential campaign and Harold Ford, Jr.'s campaign for U.S. Senate. He also held a more than 3-to-1 financial advantage over Mancini, with $229,170 on hand by the end of June, while Mancini had $64781.

For Mancini, 51, it is her first time as candidate. Most recently the executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action, Mancini is best known for her career as an activist and organizer.