Sam McKenzie wins State House District 15, unseating incumbent Rep. Staples

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Sam McKenzie has won the race for the State House District 15 congressional seat that was too close to call on election night after officials say there are not enough provisional ballots for candidate Matthew Park to win.

At the end of election night on Thursday, unofficial vote tallies had Sam McKenzie leading Matthew Park by just 23 votes. Incumbent Rick Staples will finish in third place.

Knox County Election Administrator Chris Davis confirmed that only 21 of the 226 remaining provisional ballots were from voters in the 15th district.

McKenzie will face independent candidate Troy Jones in the general election.

Park said on election night he would not concede until all provisional ballots had been counted by election officials, which won’t take place until Tuesday.

Staples, who came in third with about 21% of the vote, posted a video Friday thanking his constituents for letting him serve as their representative and commending the other candidates on their campaigns.

After graduating from Austin-East High School in Knoxville, McKenzie earned a bachelor’s degree in Physics from Fisk University and obtained his master’s degree in Solid State Physics from the University of Memphis. He worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for over 30 years and has served on various local community boards, including on the Knox County Commission.

He is the brother of Reggie and Raleigh McKenzie, former NFL players and members of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Reggie McKenzie is an NFL executive who currently serves as the senior personnel executive for the Miami Dolphins.

His wife, Gwen, is Vice Mayor of the Knoxville City Council.

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