KNOXVILLE - Tennessee state House candidate Gloria Johnson has conceded the race for the District 13 seat to Republican incumbent Eddie Smith.
"I'm very glad every vote was counted," she told WBIR 10News Monday afternoon. "I conceded earlier today and called Eddie Smith."
Smith defeated Johnson, a Democrat, during the Nov. 8 general election by 154 votes, according to the unofficial final returns. He led by 50.35 percent to her 49.65 percent.
However, Johnson said she was waiting for the Knox County Election Commission to count 597 provisional ballots cast countywide in case they changed the final result of the district race.
Election officials began counting the provisional ballots Monday morning. Of the 597, only 86 came from voters in District 13.
Cliff Rodgers, Knox County administrator of elections, said it could take up to a week to count all the provisional ballots.
“We’re extremely pleased that we’re able to announce before lunch how many . . . provisional ballots were in that district,” he said. “This helps narrow the focus.”
Elections officials will still have to investigate whether the provisional ballots count. For example, was the voter really from the district and was the person actually registered to vote?
The difference in this year’s race was even closer than the last time Smith and Johnson competed.
The two squared off in November 2014 when Johnson held the 13th District office and Smith challenged her. Smith ended up winning by less than 200 votes. More than 13,000 ballots were cast in that contest.
Some 22,000 ballots were cast on Nov. 8.
Johnson said she was setting up an appointment to meet with Smith soon.
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