By Richard Locker,
August 2, 2012

All three of Shelby County’s Republican state legislators who faced intraparty challenges Thursday were renominated and effectively re-elected because none faces opposition in the November general election.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, 57, won easily over small airport owner Woody Degan, 48, in Senate District 32, which includes much of East Shelby County and all of Tipton County. Norris, a Memphis attorney, is the second-ranking officer in the Senate, where he has served since 2000. Degan had some tea party backing and attacked Norris from the far right, veering off into talk of Islamic Sharia law in Tennessee and a 20-year-old United Nations resolution on environmental sustainability. Norris got 90 percent of the vote to Degan’s 10 percent.

In House Republican primaries, Rep. Steve McManus, R-Cordova, defeated financial consultant Jim Harrell in House District 96, 79 percent to 20 percent. And Rep. Ron Lollar, R-Bartlett, turned back a challenge by Tom Stephens in District 99, 85 percent to 15 percent.

Shelby’s three other Republican state representatives — Reps. Jim Coley of Bartlett, Curry Todd of Collierville and Mark White of Memphis — had no opposition in the primary and have none in the November general election.

Norris won another four-year term after championing the push for new municipal school districts, winning approval of three separate bills in 2011 and 2012 to facilitate creation of new districts that were also on Thursday’s ballot in the six suburban cities. But he also emphasized education, crime and economic issues in his campaign. As Republican leader, he also handles the bulk of Gov. Bill Haslam’s legislation in the Senate.

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