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DECISION '98

Widow of Tennessee Senator Defeats Rival Accused in Slaying

November 04, 1998| Associated Press

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — The widow of a popular state senator who was killed two weeks ago overwhelmingly defeated the man charged with the killing in election returns Tuesday night.

Democrat Charlotte Burks was pulling 97% of the votes to 3% for Republican Byron (Low Tax) Looper, who ran his campaign from jail after his Oct. 23 arrest.

Looper, the Putnam County property tax assessor, is charged with killing Sen. Tommy Burks, a conservative Democrat who was gunned down as he sat in a pickup truck on his farm Oct. 19.

The killing occurred within 30 days of the election, so Democrats were not allowed to replace Burks' name on the ballot. Mrs. Burks was persuaded to run, and her write-in campaign blossomed even though she never campaigned publicly.

Election officials in the eight-county district reported heavy turnout.

"I think the people were just so outraged by what happened to Sen. Burks because he had done so much for us for so many years. People wanted to give back," said Missy Fincher, whose husband, Henry, coordinated the write-in effort.

Even the state GOP and Gov. Don Sundquist, a Republican, endorsed Mrs. Burks.

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