Candidate Forum Preview

Under normal circumstances, Republicans have long been able to take Tennessee District 1 for granted. But 2018 is not a normal year. On my bike tour last month, I chatted with Independents, Republicans, and Democrats in the diners and gas stations of East Tennessee. Since then, canvassers from the campaign have visited with over ,1000 citizens in their homes. And have listened to their concerns.

It is clear to me that, this year, a majority of East Tennessee citizens are willing to give all candidates a chance to earn their votes. Enough voters are realizing that party loyalty is not automatically what is best for our region and our country. This allows me to be very optimistic about the election in November.

While the August 2 primary is still ahead, I am unopposed, so I’ll be the Democratic nominee in November. Republican Todd McKinley is taking on incumbent Phil Roe, and the Republican primary voters will choose one of these candidates. Mr. McKinley and I will participate in a candidate forum hosted by the NAACP on Thursday, July 26, at the Carver Center in Johnson City. It is my understanding that Congressman Roe’s office has failed to respond to the invitation to participate, so voters will be denied an opportunity to hear his thoughts unless he suddenly decides to engage with the community.

Of course, I’ll need support from a lot of Republicans to win the election, and fortunately I already have plenty of Republican supporters and donors. The picture that accompanies this post is of a new campaign bumper sticker that was requested by a Republican donor. And, there are certainly plenty of reasons why folks who have never voted for a Democrat before have promised to vote for me. A few of the reasons are:

Fiscal Responsibility—The addition of at least $1.5 trillion to our national debt in the recent budget is an irresponsible risk to our children’s future.

Moral Leadership—Many East Tennesseans strongly believe in the admonition to care for the least among us, and separation of children from their parents is a huge violation. We can enforce our laws without cruelty.

Free Trade—The tariffs implemented by the current administration have resulted in retaliatory tariffs from markets outside the U.S. that harm farms and businesses in our region. Automobile parts manufacturers, hog farmers, soybean farmers, chicken farmers and processers, corn farmers, and whiskey distilleries are all located in our region and have already been harmed or are at risk of harm.

Term Limits—Voters in Tennessee District 1 for the most part are strong supporters of term limits. After Congressman Roe was elected in 2008, he promised to serve only five terms. He is now running for a sixth term. He did not disclose this change in his announcement, and when questioned later he has not really justified how breaking this promise is in the interests of the region as opposed to himself.

Responsibility to the Region—The incumbent congressman takes his orders from Washington insiders and fails to engage with the citizens in the District. His votes reflect his priorities.

I’m looking forward to the candidate forum July 26, and I hope many readers will have the opportunity to attend. The event will also be streamed live on Facebook.