Ophelia Ford wins close primary race for state Senate

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Ophelia E. Ford won a razor thin victory Thursday night in the Democratic primary for the state Senate seat once held by John Ford, her brother, now under indictment.

With all 60 precincts reporting, Ophelia Ford had 1,336 votes to 1,316 for state Rep. Henri Brooks.

John Ford, a Democrat, gave up his Senate seat in May after his indictment on federal bribery charges in the Tennessee Waltz corruption sting. He held the seat for 31 years.

Seven other candidates in the Democratic primary were far behind, including state Reps. Barbara Cooper and John DeBerry Jr. Ophelia Ford's 20-vote margin amounted to 29 percent of the vote to 28 percent for Brooks.

"This is a joyous night," she said moments after winning.

In the Republican primary for the seat, Millington businessman Terry Roland easily defeated his lone opponent, John Farmer, 1,217 votes to 126. Ophelia Ford and Roland now face each other in the general election Sept. 15.

In another special election to fill the state House seat once held by Kathryn Bowers, businessman Gary L. Rowe defeated three opponents to win the Democratic primary. No Republicans ran.

Bowers left her House seat in May after she was elected to the state Senate in a special election. Bowers also was indicted on bribery charges in Operation Tennessee Waltz.

Ophelia Ford, 55, is a funeral home director and has a background in the health care industry. She is the aunt of U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. of Memphis, and ran unsuccessfully in 2002 for the Shelby County Commission, losing to brother Joe Ford. Six of her brothers and one nephew have been elected to public office in the past.