Clemmons Wins House District 55 Democratic Primary


The Tennessean, 8/7/14

By Tony Gonzalez

NASHVILLE - State Rep. Gary Odom, who served in the Tennessee General Assembly since 1986, lost his House District 55 seat Thursday in one of the region’s most hotly contested primaries.

Civil attorney John Ray Clemmons won the West Nashville seat, which has no Republican general election opponent.

Clemmons captured 54 percent of the vote and was congratulated by House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh.

“I’m just very grateful to the people of the 55th District for placing their trust in me and to all those who voted and those who really wanted a new beginning,” Clemmons told The Tennessean. “We’re going to get the state back on track.”

At the heart of the race was how the candidates split over the Amp mass transit proposal, which Odom, a former House Majority leader, opposed and Clemmons in support.

There wasn’t much the two agreed on, with Odom at one point calling some claims by Clemmons the most outrageous lies he had ever faced. Clemmons didn’t back down.

Clemmons, 36, is a civil attorney in Nashville and former political director of the Tennessee Democratic Party. He’s on the board of Nashville RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) and is a former member of the Metro Board of Fair Commissioners, Tennessee Civil Service Commission.

Odom, 62, became House majority leader in 2007, a position he held until Democrats voted him out as their leader in 2011 as Republicans took control of the chamber. He also served on the Metro Council from 1983 to 1995.

Clemmons had $118,376.93 for his campaign as of the June 30 filing report, including a loan he made. Odom held $78,151.74.