NASHVILLE – With the official swearing-in of Shelbyville trucking company owner Pat Marsh recently, Tennessee Republicans expanded their control over the state House of Representatives to a majority plus one.
House Speaker Kent Williams, R-Elizabethton, who introduced Marsh to take the oath of office from state Supreme Court Justice Bill Koch, immediately named Marsh to the House committees on transportation and commerce.
Williams told the 60-or-so people scattered about the House floor observing the ceremony that Marsh’s “expertise in the business world,” and “expertise in transportation — being in that field his whole life,” suit him well to oversee legislation affecting the two.
Born in Fayetteville and a graduate of Fayetteville Central High who later graduated with a business degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Marsh, 59, worked for Ford Motors and later Goggins Truck Line — which he eventually bought and then sold — before starting a new line called Big G Express in 1995, according to his campaign bio.
Marsh, who said his legislative priorities include promoting “job opportunities, improved education and safer neighborhoods,” routed Democrat Ty Cobb in a District 62 special election earlier this month.
The election is perceived by some here and elsewhere as an example of Republicans capitalizing on local dissatisfaction with prominent national-level Democratic Party initiatives. For state Democrats, the outcome was at minimum a “disaster,” reported the Nashville Scene.
Even a Wall Street Journal political columnist took note of the election, which delivered the traditionally Democrat-held District 62 seat into the hands of a Republican for the first time in generations.
“In Tennessee, Republican businessman Pat Marsh won 56 percent of the vote to defeat Democrat Ty Cobb,” wrote WSJ‘s John Fund. “It wasn’t as if Mr. Cobb had a name unknown to voters. His brother Curt had held the seat before resigning to take another government office (and it probably didn’t hurt having the same name as a baseball legend). But Mr. Cobb attributed his defeat to the fact that ‘a lot of people based their opinions on national issues . . . the health care issue was the main one.'”