Monday, July 31, 2006


Saturday in the 1st District

I want to thank the Sullivan County and Washington County Republicans for serving as such gracious hosts this Saturday. It was good to get back to the 1st District, and I realize just how much I miss it when I am away for a few weeks.

The Sullivan County Republican Picnic, which was held at Sullivan Central High School in the early afternoon, was not well attended. This was probably due to the light rain that was falling at the time (although the event was held inside Central's cafeteria), which certainly didn't inspire many people to want to be out-and-about for that portion of the weekend.

Nearly everyone in attendance was either a candidate or worked for one of the candidates. Richard Roberts estimated to me that perhaps only three of the attendees hadn't yet voted, and he was probably not that far off in his estimate.

Nearly every candidate running for the 1st District was there (Vance Cheek, David Davis, Richard Venable, Dan Smith, Larry Waters, Phil Roe, Peggy Barnett), as well as Ed Bryant and Van Hilleary. (Bob Corker didn't think that Sullivan or Washington County was important enough to attend their festivities, which is odd since little else was going on Saturday around the state.) Jim Bryson was also in attendance, his campaign having started to focus on raising his name ID in East Tennessee.

One man that everyone wanted to congratulate was the 1st District's newest "Statesman," Danny Price, who was honored at the Tennessee Republican Party's Statesmen's Dinner last weekend. Danny is one of the great guys in Tennessee politics, and everyone who knows him is better for it.

The weather was certainly better an hour later at Washington County's picnic, which was held in Johnson City. In fact, it might have cleared up too much as the pavilion was stifling. (I don't know what it is about that structure, but this is the third event I have attended in it over the years and the conditions have been brutal each time.)

Not every candidate attended this event, though. Vance Cheek, David Davis, Dan Smith, and Phil Roe were there for the 1st District candidates (with Larry Waters sending a representative to attend on his behalf), and only Ed Bryant attended amongst the Senate candidates. Van Hilleary and Bob Corker had locals stump on their behalf, which provided some entertainment. Van's poor rep, who was asked to speak at a last minute's notice, said that Van needed to be with his pregnant wife and couldn't be too far away. That's funny, since Sullivan County is farther away from Meredith than Washington County, and Van had been in Sullivan County only an hour previous. Bob's representative then asked for everyone to look at Bob's record, which is exactly what Ed and Van have been asking people to do for months now. Funny stuff.

The food was great, and I had a wonderful time speaking to so many people, including Vance Cheek's lovely wife, Jody.

One thing that I am hesitant to comment on are some of the allegations that are being tossed around behind the scenes amongst the campaigns. Unfortunately, it seems that one of the campaigns has chosen to partake in some rather vicious rumor-mongering, as well as some quite illegal sign vandalism. (The allegations that I was presented with were not the same ones that came out of Bristol this morning that cost Phil Roe several expensive signs, but I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't related to this whole mess.)

I don't want to pour gasoline on the fire by spreading the rumors on this forum, but I do want to send a message to that particular campaign - cool it. Your actions are unbecoming to your candidate and his message. The time you are wasting by hurting others or their campaign materials could be better spent knocking on doors or phone banking.

All in all, it is was a great day. It's a bit of a shame that more people don't come out and spend meaningful time with candidates; our voting numbers would be up if they did. You learn a lot about people by meeting them and hearing their stories. I certainly feel that way about Vance Cheek after this weekend.

Y'all should try it some time if you get the opportunity.

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