Smiley concedes to Martin in Democratic gubernatorial primary

By , Daily Memphian Updated: August 05, 2022 1:16 PM CT | Published: August 05, 2022 1:13 PM CT

Memphis City Councilman JB Smiley Jr. conceded Friday, Aug. 5, to Jason Martin in the Democratic primary for governor.

Martin’s victory was narrower than expected. He won by 1,468 votes, according to the Tennessee Secretary of State.

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He received 101,221 votes, totaling 39.38%. Smiley received 99,753 votes, or 38.81%. Memphis activist Carnita Atwater came in third with 56,061 votes and 21.81%.

“Coming up short by less than 1 percent isn’t what we were expecting, but to every person who cast a vote for our campaign keep your head lifted high,” Smiley said in a statement. “We have forever changed the narrative in Tennessee on the type of candidate that can win. We must keep moving forward.”

Martin beats Smiley, Atwater in Democratic primary for governor

Martin declared victory on Thursday night before all the votes were counted, confident in how the remaining vote would break down. But the totals narrowed considerably as he gave his speech.

Smiley said it was too close to call and asked Martin to retract his statement; the Tennessee Democratic Party declared him the winner on Friday morning.

Smiley overwhelmingly won Shelby County with more than 60% of the vote. More than half of all his votes statewide came from Shelby County. Martin performed better in rural areas.

Martin faces incumbent Republican Gov. Bill Lee in November. Lee did not face a primary challenge.

“Jason Martin and I agreed on several issues throughout this campaign: most importantly, that we need to beat Bill Lee in November,” Smiley said.



Jason Martin JB Smiley Jr. Carnita Atwater August 2022 election
Ian Round

Ian Round

Ian Round is The Daily Memphian’s state government reporter based in Nashville. He came to Tennessee from Maryland, where he reported on local politics for Baltimore Brew. He earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland in December 2019.


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