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Tennessee's 7th congressional district: Wikis

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Tennessee's 7th congressional district
TN07 109.gif
Current Representative Marsha Blackburn (R)
Population (2000) 632,143
Median income $50,090
Ethnicity 84.6% White, 11.5% Black, 1.5% Asian, 2.2% Hispanic, 0.3% Native American, 0.1% other
Cook PVI R+18

The 7th Congressional District of Tennessee is a congressional district located in the middle and southwestern parts of the state, connecting suburbs of Memphis and Nashville. It is the state's wealthiest district in terms of per capita income, as well as the third-largest in area.

Cities in the district include Germantown, Brentwood, Bolivar, Lexington, and Savannah. It also includes most of Clarksville, as well as Tennessee's share of nearby Fort Campbell. Also in the district are portions of Nashville, Memphis and Collierville.

The district's current configuration dates from 1983, when Tennessee gained a district as a result of the 1980 Census. At that time, large portions of the old 6th District were shifted to the 4th and 9th districts, and the remaining territory of the old 6th was renumbered the 7th. Prior to the reapportionment that resulted from the 2000 Census, the district's boundaries generally coincided with county lines[1], but in Middle Tennessee, the 7th district's current geography resembles a gerrymander. At some points in the Middle Tennessee portion of the district, it is only two miles wide (roughly the width of a highway lane).

The 7th is a very safe seat for the Republican Party. In fact, it is the state's most Republican area outside the party's traditional heartland in East Tennessee. Democrats have made only two serious bids for the district since it took on its current form in 1983, and came within single digits only once. Most of the district's residents have not been represented by a Democrat since 1973.

The district's politics are dominated by the wealthy suburbs of Memphis (e.g., Germantown, Collierville, Cordova) and Nashville (e.g., Brentwood, Franklin). These areas boast some of the highest median incomes in the nation, and have swelled with former Nashville and Memphis residents since the late 1960s. At first, this was due to anger over court-ordered desegregation. Since the late 1970s, the motivation has been a desire to seek more "family-friendly," religious environments (as opposed to the urbane liberal orientations of Nashville and Memphis). They give the 7th a character similar to other highly affluent suburban districts in the South (e.g., those around Birmingham, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston and Atlanta). Many of the state's most politically active churches are located in the suburban areas of the district, giving the 7th a strong social conservative tint typical of most affluent Southern suburban districts. Republicans dominate every level of government in the suburban areas, which tend to elect some of Tennessee's most conservative state legislators.

The rural areas of the district are demographically similar to the neighboring 8th District, and mostly send Democrats to the General Assembly. However, most of the Democrats in the 7th's rural areas are as conservative on social issues as their suburban counterparts. They have long been more willing to support Republicans at the national level than their counterparts in the 8th. Many of the rural counties now in the district, for instance, voted overwhelmingly for George Wallace's (then governor of nearby Alabama) 1968 presidential candidacy, making Tennessee the strongest-performing state for him that he did not win.

The only significant blocs of reliably Democratic voters left in the district are African-Americans who reside in Fayette and Hardeman counties (bordering Mississippi), mostly descendants of slaves who worked on the area's plantations in the 19th century, as well as in portions of Clarksville; Fayette County, in fact, supported Bill Clinton during both of his runs for president. At the ballot box, however, they are no match for the coalition of wealthy suburbanites and rural conservatives. This factor inhibits the development of anything like a political community enjoyed by their neighbors in Memphis' 9th District.

Marsha Blackburn, a Republican and the first-ever Tennessee woman not to serve as a stand-in for her husband in Washington, assumed the 7th District's seat in 2003.

List of representatives

Name Years' Party District Residence Notes
District created March 4, 1823
Sam Houston March 4, 1823 - March 3, 1825 Jacksonian D-R Lebanon
March 4, 1825 - March 3, 1827 Jacksonian Elected Governor of Tennessee
John Bell March 4, 1827 – March 3, 1835 Jacksonian Nashville Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1834-1835, Appointed as U.S. Secretary of War
March 4, 1835 – March 3, 1837 Anti-Jacksonian
March 4, 1837 – March 3, 1841 Whig
Robert L. Caruthers March 4, 1841 – March 3, 1843 Whig Lebanon Did not seek re-election
David W. Dickinson March 4, 1843 – March 3, 1845 Whig Murfreesboro Did not seek re-election
Meredith P. Gentry March 4, 1845 – March 3, 1853 Whig Franklin Did not seek re-election
Robert M. Bugg March 4, 1853 – March 3, 1855 Whig Giles County Did not seek re-election
John V. Wright March 4, 1855 – March 3, 1861 Democratic Purdy Secession of Tennessee
American Civil War
Isaac R. Hawkins July 24, 1866 – March 3, 1867 Unionist Huntingdon Did not seek re-election
March 4, 1867 – March 3, 1871 Republican
Robert P. Caldwell March 4, 1871 – March 3, 1873 Democratic Trenton Defeated for renomination
John Atkins March 4, 1873 – March 3, 1875 Democratic Paris Redistricted to 8th district
Washington C. Whitthorne March 4, 1875 – March 3, 1883 Democratic Columbia Redistricted from 6th district, Did not seek re-election
John G. Ballentine March 4, 1883 – March 3, 1887 Democratic Pulaski Did not seek re-election
Washington C. Whitthorne March 4, 1887– March 3, 1891 Democratic Columbia Did not seek re-election
Nicholas N. Cox March 4, 1891 – March 3, 1901 Democratic Franklin Did not seek re-election
Lemuel P. Padgett March 4, 1901 – August 2, 1922 Democratic Columbia Died
Vacant August 2, 1922 – November 6, 1922
Clarence W. Turner November 7, 1922 – March 3, 1923 Democratic Waverly Served remainder of term as caretaker
William C. Salmon March 4, 1923 – March 3, 1925 Democratic Columbia Did not seek re-election
Edward E. Eslick March 4, 1925 – June 14, 1932 Democratic Pulaski Died
Vacant June 14, 1932 – August 12, 1932
Willa Eslick August 13, 1932 – March 3, 1933 Democratic Pulaski Served remainder of term as caretaker
Gordon Browning March 4, 1933 – January 3, 1935 Democratic Huntingdon Redistricted from 8th district, Ran for U.S. Senate
Herron C. Pearson January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1943 Democratic Jackson Did not seek re-election
W. Wirt Courtney January 3, 1943 – January 3, 1949 Democratic Franklin Redistricted from 6th district, Defeated for renomination
James P. Sutton January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1953 Democratic Wartrace Redistricted to 6th district
Tom J. Murray January 3, 1953 – December 30, 1966 Democratic Jackson Redistricted from 8th district, Defeated for renomination and resigned
Vacant December 31, 1966 – January 2, 1967
Ray Blanton January 3, 1967– January 3, 1973 Democratic Adamsville Ran for U.S. Senate
Ed Jones January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1983 Democratic Yorkville Redistricted from 8th district, Redistricted to 8th district
Don Sundquist January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1995 Republican Memphis Elected Governor
Ed Bryant January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2003 Republican Henderson Ran for U.S. Senate
Marsha Blackburn January 3, 2003 – present Republican Brentwood Incumbent

References

  1. ^ 106th Congress Congressional Districts in Tennessee Electronic Atlas

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