Openly atheist Democrat Gayle Jordan lost a special election on Tuesday to fill a vacant seat in the Tennessee Senate.
Republican Shane Reeves won in a landslide, according to unofficial results from the Tennessee secretary of state. He received 13,139 votes compared to 5,179 votes for Jordan.
Reeves will fill a seat vacated by Republican Jim Tracy after he resigned to serve as state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office.
Jordan is executive director of Recovering from Religion, a group that supports people who wish to leave their faith behind. She is a former Southern Baptist who left the denomination 10 years ago “when her then-teenagers began asking questions she could not answer.”
Reeves, a Murfreesboro-based businessman, made Jordan’s open atheism an issue in the election, telling the Tennessean that her “views are radical” and “out of touch with the district.”
He argued that Jordan was unsuited for the state Senate because faith shapes one’s worldview and affects the decisions one makes.
“I’m a Christian and that is going to serve as a filter, serve as a moral compass and how I look at things, if I’m fortunate to get elected,” Reeves said, adding that many people with whom he had spoken could not believe the Democratic candidate is an atheist.
At a campaign party Tuesday, Jordan admitted she hoped for a different outcome, despite running in a state that President Donald Trump won by 26 points in 2016.
“We’re disappointed in the results but we couldn’t be prouder of the campaign that we ran,” she told the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro.
Senate Speaker Randy McNally, who previously called Jordan a “dangerous” candidate, said in a statement Tuesday night that Reeves’ win showed that “any blue wave will hit a big, red seawall in Tennessee.”
State Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden said the election “shows that voters see the results of Tennessee’s Republican leadership — increased economic opportunity, expanded access to education, and record low unemployment rates.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.