Monterey, Tennessee , United States
|| May 22, 1940
|Died||October 19, 1998
|Last Modifed||E Pluribus Unum|
Apr 19, 2021 01:19pm
|Info||Tommy Burks (May 22, 1940 – October 19, 1998) was a farmer and Democratic party politician in Tennessee, USA. He served in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1970 until 1978, and in the Tennessee State Senate from 1978 until 1998. |
Burks was one of the most conservative Democrats in the state legislature. He opposed the teaching of evolution in school science classes (twice introducing legislation to restrict its teaching), legal abortion, gambling, and a state lottery. However, his views seemed to have been very popular and in line with a large number of voters within his rural district.
Burks was an energetic legislator who almost never missed a floor or committee session. It is reported that he would on some occasions arrive at a session having already gotten up on his farm, delivered a load of hogs to Knoxville (approximately 90 miles east of his home) and then driven to the State Capitol in Nashville (100 miles west of his home and 190 miles west of Knoxville). Despite the 100 mile distance, and unlike most legislators from parts of the state a considerable distance from Nashville, Burks made it a practice to go home to his district and his farm almost every night, even during legislative sessions.
Burks was murdered by his Republican Party opponent Byron Looper less than a month before his likely re-election. His widow, Charlotte, ran for his seat and won, became the first Tennessee State Senator to win as a write-in candidate and one of very few American politicians to win as a write-in candidate ever.