Covington businessman Paul Rose won the Republican nomination after Thursday's District 32 special primary.
Taking 60.3 percent of the votes, the only inexperienced Republican candidate handily beat former county commissioners George Chism and Heidi Shafer and former state representative Steve McManus. Both Chism and McManus are Collierville residents.
After his watch party wrapped and he'd fielded phone calls from senators around the state, Rose said he was feeling excited about the victory.
"I'm overwhelmed at the support," he said. "I said earlier that I've seen our community come out and support and they did it again. I don't think this was as good a call as when Lucy got sick years ago, but we're so thankful for the way they supported us not just here in Tipton County but in Shelby County."
Lucy is Rose's nearly 13-year-old granddaughter whose battle with cancer brought community support to the family in ways Tipton County had never before seen.
He wants to be clear that, if elected senator, he'll work for both counties, not just Tipton.
"Talk to your neighbors who voted for me. Find out who I am, my character, my family's character. It didn't start with me, it started with those that came before me in my family, my grandparents, my dad, mom … Godly men and women that tried to treat people right," he said. "If you don't know who I am, ask someone that did vote for me. I hope you find out they voted for the right person and I'm gonna support him."
A political newcomer, Rose took his underdog status in stride.
"I never mind being the underdog because it lights your fire and make you work a bit harder," he said. "One of the things I've done in my life is try to listen to people. We've work throughout this district in the company, in West Tennessee and the region and, really, beyond … so you sit down with people and figure out what they really need, what their goals are, what they're trying to accomplish, then, as a contractor you work together to get that accomplished. I just don't see that as being any different."
Of the combined 11,158 ballots cast in the district, Rose supporters put up 6,398. Chism came in at 1,530, just 10 votes ahead of Shafer. McManus brought in 1,157 votes.
He is humble when the subject of earning 60 percent of votes is discussed.
"I heard that ... and I am sure there's a mathematical error," he jokes. "But if not, thank you. Thank you, voters. I'm humbled and I'm honored, appreciative and I look forward to not disappointing you."
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden said he believes Rose will succeed if chosen as the next senator.
"Paul is a long time friend and has been committed to advocating for conservative ideas and will make a great State Senator. We are eager to help them win the general election and help continue the successes of our senate supermajority."
Chism also congratulated Rose on his victory.
"I would like to extend my congratulations to Paul Rose on a great race. You have my full support," he said in a Facebook post Thursday night.
Rose will face Democrat Eric Coleman, a retired senior chief who lives in Bartlett and owns a consulting firm, in the March 12 special election.
Coleman said he believes his life experiences and views will draw voters.
“I bring a story, and it’s a colorful story with lots of twists and turns,” he said. “I start with policies, not party affiliation. I look forward to working with Republicans on things that matter.”
The seat was vacated by longtime senator Mark Norris, a Collierville Republican, who became a federal judge. The new senator will finish the remainder of Norris's term, which expires in 2020, and will represent not only Tipton County but also Collierville, Arlington, Bartlett, Eads and Lakeland.