No, the upset of the night wasn't Courtney Rogers over Deb Maggart. (Many saw that coming weeks ago).
The upset of the night was Dale Carr over Richard Montgomery by 77 votes. Richard was a powerful chairman who had the money and the Governor come in for him. It wasn't enough. Some say it was being the one Republican vote against my Classroom protection act in committee. Others say it was his vote against electing school superintendents (Another bill of mine). I am not going to say that.
A close second was Tilman Goins over Don Miller. Not a lot of people saw that coming. I had a friend who is a truck driver up in the area and had been telling me it was a race to watch. Tilman had the yard signs in yards. Not right of ways. It made the difference.
Third goes to Ron Travis over Jimmy Cobb. This one wasn’t on anyone’s radar until about the final week or so. Then it got serious quick. Most people thought Cobb had turned the corner at the end but it was not to be.
Fourth goes to Susan Lynn over Linda Elam. Both had conservative histories. The "Establishment" came out for Elam who was pushing how Susan didn’t live in the district but the rumor was it was Lynn who was working the district doors hard. The Lynn win was much bigger then anticipated.
Next, Courtney Rogers over Deb Maggart. I started getting panic calls about 2 weeks ago that this one was going to be close. People I know who went to knock doors for her were not getting a good reception. It played out.
This race will have reverberations for the next few years. Not only has the NRA flexed its muscles (some say more in a political power move then because of anything Deb did) scaring most other legislators into doing what ever the NRA asks but it has proven that big money and a key issue can win elections. Other lobby groups will now be expected to step up in similar ways if they want to win.
Next, Kent Kalfie over Julia Hurley. As I can state from personal experience, you can be a little "colorful" and still be a good legislator who stays in office. But until you are a little more established you need to give it at least a little rest around election time, You need to work hard at the doors, keep your head down and not give your enemies any free shots. You need to let the people remember how you vote and that you are a regular person. Not amp the color up.
Julia was a solid conservative vote but she was a rainbow in her first term. Most of it for non legislative issues. She had energy to burn that (when directed) was great, but it more often played out in ways that make campaign managers cringe and a lot of it came at election time. The media was none to understanding and some say she didn't work as hard at the doors as she had to win the seat.
Lastly, Dale Ford is now a ghost to the legislature losing by about 450 votes. Not a big shock really. You have to show up to work (and stay at work) if you want to keep your job. People understand a trip to the rest room. Leaving for the day as soon as your seat mate shows up is not appreciated.