JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable oversees a county commission of 24 Republicans out of 24 seats.
The Republican Party has a stranglehold on the area.
President Donald Trump’s visit Monday will only strengthen the party’s grip on the area ahead of the crucial vote between Republican Marsha Blackburn and Democrat Phil Bredesen, according to Venable.
“I’ve heard about a (blue) tsunami coming,” Venable said Monday afternoon. “Here in East Tennessee, the only tsunamis we have are Republican tsunamis.”
This race is incredibly important
Ahead of Monday’s Make America Great Again rally, supporters and opponents of the president both said the rally should help bring undecided voters into their camps.
The race to succeed U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., has picked up national importance in recent weeks as the fate of the majority in the senior House has become murkier.
Last week’s Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, which ended in an agreement for the FBI to investigate decades-old sexual assault allegations, has underscored the importance of the GOP’s control of the Senate and heightened the importance of the race.
Currently, Republicans have a 51-49 lead in the Senate, and it is widely believed the Republican’s current majority in the House is in jeopardy as well.
Democrats: Don’t suppress the vote
Monday marked the fourth time either Trump or Vice President Mike Pence made their way to the Volunteer State to rally voters in support of Blackburn.
Washington County Democratic Party Chairman Kate Craig said the White House attention is a good thing for Democrats.
“We know this is going to be a very close race, and we also understand that the reason Trump is coming here is to rally the base because Marsha Blackburn’s numbers aren’t what they should be in their eyes,” Craig said. “So, they’re concerned because this is the area they need to carry.”
Craig and volunteers from Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia came to protest the president’s visit Monday, but said they were not going to be disruptive or disrespectful – the idea, she said, is to gather as much support from undecided voters as possible.
“The stereotype (is) we’ve resisted, we’ve resisted, we’ve resisted, so much since 2016, and don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to resist, but it’s time to say what we believe in,” she said. “So, with Election Day being so close we wanted to do something to energize voters to show who we are and what we believe.”
Instead of having protesters boo the motorcade or hold up incendiary signs, Craig asked them to come with “Democrats support …” or “Democrats believe …”.
“Anything can happen in four weeks, and we don’t want to do anything to suppress that vote,” she said.
It’s ‘Politics 101’
State Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, said the White House’s attention is not a sign of desperation. Rather, it’s simply “politics 101.” He said it makes sense to have a leader of a party come stump for an important race.
He said the thousands of people who showed up Monday all know the importance of the soon-to-be-vacated Senate seat.
“The whole purpose is to highlight how important it is in getting Blackburn elected … at the end of the day they need to get someone who can get a Constitutionalist on the Supreme Court …
“To have an additional person behind (Trump’s agenda) on the U.S. Senate is a big, big deal,” he continued. “Every vote counts and having a strong conservative like Marsha Blackburn on there is important.”
Outside the Tennessee Senate race, Hill said it made sense for Trump to come to Johnson City because of its proximity to other states. Residents from North and South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia were all expected to show up at the rally.
Read or Share this story: https://knoxne.ws/2Nge9FX