Republican Vital Wins Special Election For State House Seat

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A state House seat in southeastern Tennessee will remain in Republican hands.

Greg Vital, 65, a businessman from Georgetown, won the special election Tuesday for House District 29 race in northern and eastern parts of Hamilton County, according to totals posted by the Hamilton County Election Commission. He received 3884 votes while Democrat DeAngelo Jelks, a 40-year-old U.S. Army Reserve captain from Ooltewah, received 964.

Vital will replace Republican Rep. Joan Carter, who has held the seat since her husband Mike Carter, died in May after battling pancreatic cancer. He had served in the Tennessee House since 2013.

The election followed a rape allegation made Sunday against Jelks, prompting his resignation from a local Democratic Party position and a denial in which he called the relationship “consensual yet inappropriate.”

On the day of the special election Jelks posted an apology to his wife in a social media response in which he also said he did nothing illegal. He said he is “focused on restructuring my personal life, and reconnecting spiritually."

A Chattanooga Police spokesperson confirmed to news outlets that a rape report was filed Sunday and cannot be shared until the investigation is completed. Jelks does not currently face any charges over the allegations.