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Harris earns win over Wolfe for Republican committee

For Kent Harris, the results of the Aug. 7 election underscores the importance of each and every vote.
Harris, who defeated incumbent Kelly Wolfe for the seat of Republican Committeeman for the 3rd District Thursday, sees this election as more than a win for himself.
“It shows that with all the establishment support (for my opponent), it was the every man voter that counted,” Harris said. “They’re the ones that decide elections.”
Unofficial vote tallies from Aug. 7 showed Harris defeating Wolfe with 12,797 to 12,099, with the biggest win coming from Carter County.
Harris campaigned on a message of inclusion, believing, he said, that every voter in District 3 deserved to be included and considered.
“I need to be helping all Republicans,” Harris said, adding that he had no intention in his new role as Republican Committeeman of involving himself in Primary politics or advocating one candidate over another. “I’d like to see us all united. The tent is big enough for everybody.”
Harris said he is also looking forward to not only involving more people in state politics, but also educating more Tennesseans about the job.
“The first question that I would get is ‘What is this job? What does it do?’ Even some of the local officials didn’t know,” Harris said of responses he received after he announced his intention to seek this volunteer position. “A lot of people felt left out. It felt like only a certain group was being included. We need to include all groups.”
As Republican Committeeman, Harris explained, he will be part of a committee of 33 men and 33 women who serve state Republicans.
“I’ll represent Washington, Unicoi and over half of Carter County,” Harris said. The committee elects the chairman of the state Republican Party, as well as setting bylaws and platforms. The committee is also where a Republican candidate turns when he or she would like to contest election results or request a recount.
“My goal is to involve as many people as possible in what is going on,” Harris promised. “I’d like to get the input of everybody. I want to be involved in all three counties.”
It is this awareness of and presence in all three counties that may have helped get Harris his win.
“You have to have a strategy to win an election,” Harris said. “Going in, my strategy was to work as hard as possible, but I also felt like for me to win, the more people that would come vote, the better chances I would have.”
By looking at the number of items on the ballot, Harris expected voter turnout to be especially strong in Carter County, strong in Washington County, and comparably low in Unicoi County, all based on the number of issues before the voters.
Harris had 1,202 to Wolfe’s 1,526 in Unicoi and 6,999 to 7,594 in Washington, but his results of 4,596 to 2,979 in Carter were enough for the win.
Strategy aside, Harris said it still comes back to the individual voters who supported him.
“I had a good grass roots support team,” Harris said, adding that he hesitated to name specific names because he’s sure he would leave someone out,
But there was still one name he is more than happy to share. “I’d like to dedicate this win to Carol Sue Woods,” said Harris of his grandmother who is currently in poor health. “She’s been campaigning for me from her hospital room, She’s been one of my strongest supporters and someone who could always push me to do more.”