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Scenes from around Knox County on Election Day 2020.

Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee, which has ranked near the bottom for the number of women elected to public office, added a few more in Tuesday’s elections.

The Center for American Women and Politics said that 17 non-incumbent women won U.S. House seats this week, including 10 Republicans and seven Democrats.

“The previous high for non-incumbent GOP women House winners in one cycle was 9 in 2010, meaning this is a new record high,” The Center said in a tweet. 

In the 1st Congressional District, Kingsport pharmacist Diana Harshbarger, a Republican, overwhelmingly defeated Democrat Blair Washington and Independent Steve Holder, to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City.

Diana Harshbarger (Photo: Submitted)

Harshbarger becomes the seventh woman to be elected to the U.S. House in Tennessee, according to the Center located at Rutgers University in New Jersey. The list includes U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican who served in the U.S. House from 2003-18.

Harshbarger becomes the second woman to represent the 1st Congressional District. Louise G. Reece, widow of B. Carroll Reese, filled out the remainder of his term in the Tri-Cities area in 1961-62. Irene B. Baker, of Huntsville and later Knoxville, who succeeded her husband, Howard Baker Sr., at his death, served in 1964. At the time, what’s now the 2nd Congressional District included Scott County.

Democrat Renee Hoyos lost a second attempt to represent the 2nd District with incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett winning nearly 68 percent of the votes. Another Democrat, Marquita Bradshaw of Memphis, lost her bid for the U.S. Senate with Republican Bill Hagerty winning to succeed U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican who is retiring.

For 2020, the Center for American Women and Politics ranked Tennessee 49th for its representation of women in the state Legislature, or 15.2 percent of all lawmakers.

In Knox County, three women will now be on the eight-member Legislative delegation for the first time. That’s an increase of one.

State Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, a Republican, was re-elected to the 6th District over Democrat Jane George, running for the first time. Democratic state Rep. Gloria Johnson defeated Republican Elaine Davis to continue representing the 13th House District, and former County Commissioner Michele Carringer, a Republican, beat Democrat Elizabeth Rowland to succeed retiring Rep. Bill Dunn, also a Republican, for the 16th District seat.

And Betsy Henderson, who worked for former U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. and lives in Hardin Valley, was elected to the non-partisan Knox County school board to represent the 6th District, defeating Rob Gray and Hannah Lizbeth Kirby. Henderson succeeds Terry Hill, who resigned after being elected to the County Commission in August.