Some early returns, mostly early voting and absentee ballots (scroll down for full returns), out of Hamblen County --
In the presidential primary for the GOP: John McCain had the lead with about 41% of the votes, followed by Bill Huckabee 32% and then Mitt Romney with 17%
In the presidential primary for the Democrat party: Hillary Clinton with about 66%, Barack Obama with 12%.
The local sales tax increase referendum was a dead heat, with about 51% voting yes, 49% voting no.
Surprising to me is that the ultra conservative district went so largely with McCain, despite many GOP pundits refuting him as a "liberal." On the Democrat side, it's no surprise that Clinton has such a commanding lead. Many women have held and do hold office, while there are no minorities in office. Only two minorities, both men, a father and son, have ever held office in the county.
UPDATE 1: Local radio WCRK news reporters, joined by County Mayor David Purkey on the scene live at the county courthouse, make no bones they hope the sales tax increase is approved. As of 9:15 p.m, the vote favoring the tax leads the No votes by some 130 votes.
Meanwhile, MCain's lead over Huckabee has decreased, with McCain at 38.5%, Huckabee at 33.4%.
Final returns should be in momentarily.
UPDATE 2, FINAL RETURNS: The sales tax referendum fails, with No votes at 5759, Yes votes at 5668. Total turnout estimated at 40.8%.
McCain wins the county with 37.7%, Huckabee 35.3%, Romney 17.9%.
Clinton wins the county with 68.7%, Obama with 22.7%.
No return total votes were given out in the WCRK broadcast in the primaries for John Edwards, Fred Thompson or Ron Paul or any other candidates on the presidential ballots.
UPDATE 3, SULLIVAN COUNTY, STATEWIDE RETURNS: Sullivan County saw Huckabee win the GOP primary over McCain, with 36.9% over 31.4%.
Statewide totals, with only 8 of 95 counties shows Huckabee ahead, 39.94% and McCain with 31.7%, and Romney with 17.5%. Fred Thompson has 3.37%