Torrey Harris reflects on historic victory in Tennessee House Dist. 90 race

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After more than two decades there will be a new face representing Tennessee House District 90, which includes Midtown, parts of North and South Memphis.

Torrey Harris, a 29-year-old, unseated 69-year-old John DeBerry by a large margin, pulling in more than 75 percent of the vote. He also will be one of only two openly LGBT members of the Tennessee General Assembly. 

See Tennessee election results here

Harris said he was surprised by the big victory because he understood people would need to get to know him after DeBerry has been in office for so long. 

“We didn’t run on the idea of being a Democrat. I am a Democrat,” Harris said. “We ran on the idea of being progressive.”

Harris was elected after he spent countless hours knocking on doors, making calls, sending text messages, telling the people of District 90 why he should take the job DeBerry held for 26 years. 

“You can win based off who you are and what you believe in as long as you are supporting the views and values and morals of the people you represent,” Harris said.

DeBerry ran as an independent after he was voted out of the Tennessee Democratic Party earlier this year. 

Harris’ landslide win comes in his second race. The first time he ran, he lost to DeBerry in the 2018 primary. 

Harris said he did not give up.

Some of Harris’ top issues he wants to tackle are criminal justice reform, supporting public school children particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and women’s rights when it comes to health and reproductive rights.

Harris’ victory is historic on several fronts. He is now the youngest official in the state General Assembly.

“Working our way to making sure we get more and more young, thoughtful ideas put into legislation and working to make sure that the lives that are affected for our generation and the generations behind us actually get heard,” Harris said.

Also, as part of the LGBT community, he brings another representation to the house. 

“This also gives an opportunity for those who don’t necessarily understand or don’t necessarily understand the views when it comes to LGBT lives in the state of Tennessee,” Harris said. “They get to stand in front of me and make votes and look at me and say, ‘well this young man’s sexuality does not supersede who he is and what he does and what he wants to make changes for but it is part of who he is,” Harris said.

As for DeBerry, he called for unity and thanked the people of the district for their support over the years.

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