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The Hotline is reporting that Congressman Bill Jenkins, a Republican from Tennessee's 1st Congressional District will not seek reelection in 2006. Jenkins is in his mid-to-late 60s (his Congressional website is unclear), and has served in Congress since 1997. The district is heavily Republican, but unlike most GOP seats in the South, it's not a  "Bible Belt" seat. Read why that is in the extended entry, with the Hotline article.

The district itself, according to the National Atlas site is wedged into the eastern part of the state. It includes the cities of Morristown, Greeneville, Kingsport, Elizabethton and Johnson City. President Andrew Johnson (the first impeached Prez) hailed from this region. If you know of any Democratic politicians in those areas, feel free to contact them and ask them to consider a bid.

"A GOP Retirement In TN
To paraphrase Shep Smith... word today that Rep. Bill Jenkins (R-TN), has decided to retire.

Jenkins represents TN's first cong. district, which gave Pres. Bush 68% of its vote in '04. It'll be hard for Dems to recruit there -- but not impossible. The Almanac of American Politics tells us that the district's geography and industry make it uniquely sensitive to the prevailing economic winds. The demographics are changing; it's an old-line big-R-Republican district that's more party-faithful than ideologically bound to conservatism. Dems say it's the most liberal Republican district in TN. Still, as the Almanac notes, voters haven't elected a Dem there for 100 years. It's so Republican, it was Republican when it wasn't cool to be Republican in the South -- like, during and after the Civil War; "Scalawag" central, in other words.

The bottom line, though, is that retirements in environments like this one -- even in steady GOP districts -- are not the best news for the incumbent party."
http://hotlineblog.nationaljournal.com/...

For you Civil War buffs out there, this is the part of Tennessee which essentially joined the Union during the war. Along with western North Carolina, they formed cohesive units of soldiers and linked up with advancing Union troops. The voters here might well appreciate a Democrat advocating a return to "old-time values" over the new hypocrisy of the Republican Party. I am optimistic? No, but it would be a good sign for the future if a Democrat ran and did decently here.

Originally posted to stephenyellin on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 06:48 PM PST.

Poll

Most Important Tennesseean?

25%22 votes
2%2 votes
1%1 votes
6%6 votes
36%31 votes
9%8 votes
18%16 votes

| 86 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  This should be interesting (none)
    There'll probably be about 10 candidates on the GOP side, unless somebody is strong enough to muscle everybody out of the race.

    We haven't held this seat since 1881.

    No kidding around.

    "Our country right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right" - Carl Schurz

    by RBH on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 06:56:16 PM PST

  •  thanks for keeping us posted (none)
    I think you nailed it- Its going to be hard for us to recruit up there. one of our biggest problems with heavily republlican districts.

    Glad to see Estes Kefauver in your poll. I've read into him quite a bit and he is the ideal public servant. The guy certainly kicks ass. Wish he could come back and run for this open seat...

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"

    by dem4evr on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 07:00:14 PM PST

    •  I'm not sure if we have any elected officials in (none)
      TN-01.

      But i'm sure an almanac exists to tell us if there's a sheriff or a coroner who is a Democrat there

      "Our country right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right" - Carl Schurz

      by RBH on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 07:02:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  three state representatives (none)
        all first elected in 2002, see the post right below this.
        •  Cool (none)
          Do you know of any non-partisan local officials who would fit more as Dems (or are Dems) who would be free to run (IOW, not running for re-election in 2006)?

          ok, hard question

          "Our country right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right" - Carl Schurz

          by RBH on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 07:16:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  not really (none)
            one guy who is a 70-something year old middle eastern expert tried running in 2004, but wasn't really able to get anything off the ground.

            I'm not sure if there are any prominent liberal business people here or not.

            •  Yeah (none)
              prominent non-Republican business people would be the alternative too.

              Are there any issues that people should know about for the area? I checked and it went for Bush with over 2/3rds of the vote

              "Our country right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right" - Carl Schurz

              by RBH on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 07:30:40 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well, there is a sizeable farmer contingent (none)
                still here, especially tobacco farmers, so someone who is probably pro-agriculture would almost be necessary.

                Also, people tend to be unhappy about the economy and development in the area, so perhaps someone can take advantage of the fact that they've been represented by Republicans for forever, yet things aren't exactly great.

                Some information about the counties in this district:

                Carter County
                Population: 56,742
                Cities: Elizabethton
                97.5% White
                median household income: $27,371
                Poverty level: 16.9%

                Cocke County
                Population: 33,565
                Cities: Newport
                96.2% White
                median household income: $25,553
                Poverty level: 22.5%

                Greene County
                Population:  62,909
                Cities: Greeneville
                96.4% White
                median household income: $30,382
                Poverty level: 14.5%

                Hamblen County
                Population: 58,128
                Cities: Morristown
                90.7% White, 4.1% Black
                median household income: $32,350
                Poverty level: 14.4%

                Hancock County
                Population: 6,786
                Cities: none, really
                97.9% White
                median household income: $19,760
                Poverty level: 29.4%

                Hawkins County
                Population: 53,563
                Cities: Rogersville
                97.2% White
                median household income: $31,300
                poverty level: 15.8%

                Johnson County
                Population: 17,499
                Cities: Mountain City
                96.4% White
                median household income: $23,067
                poverty level: 22.6%

                Sevier County
                Population: 71,170
                Cities: Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg
                97.3% White
                median household income: $34,719
                Poverty level: 10.7%
                Major businesses: This is the "entrance to the smokey mountains" and is a rather sizeable tourist area, which includes the Dollywood amusement park.

                Sullivan County
                Population: 153,048
                Cities: Kingsport, Bristol, Bountville, Bluff City
                96.6% White
                median household income: $33,529
                Poverty level: 12.9%
                Major businesses: Eastman Chemical Company, Bristol Motor Speedway

                Unicoi County
                Population: 17,667
                Cities: Erwin
                98% White
                median household income: $29,863
                Poverty level: 13.1%
                Note: This county is famous for hanging an elephant in 1916

                Washington County
                Population: 107,198
                Cities: Johnson City, Jonesborough
                93.7% White
                median household income: $33,116
                Poverty level: 13.9%
                Notes: Johnson City is home to East Tennessee State University (enrollment 12,000) and is also considered to be the gay capital of the south

  •  good think i checked before clicking submit (4.00)
    cause i was just 5 seconds from posting a diary on the same thing.

    This is a seat that has remained in republican hands since, I think 1884.

    On the republican side, rumor has it that Senate Majority Leader Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) will not run for this seat, meaning that there is no clear successor for Jenkings.

    Looking through state senators and state reps, there are 3 republicans who look like they could be in a position to run:

    State Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) - He represents the largest city in the district, and has been in the Senate for 16 years and also served in the US Army for 4 years (1967 - 1971).  Since Ramsey is apparently not running, I'd have to say that, if he choses to run, the odds on favorite would be Crowe.

    State Rep. Jason E. Mumpower (R-Blountville) - He has served in the state house for 10 years and is Republican Caucus Assistant Leader and is involved in the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce.

    State Rep. David Davis (R-Johnson City) - Also of Johnson City, he has served in the house for 8 years and was a delegate to the White House conference on small business.

    There are 3 democrats who are elected to state office in this district. None are in particuarly good position to run, but we don't have many choices here:

    State Rep. Natahn Vaughn (D-Kingsport): The only African American in elected office in the first district that I'm aware of, he first won office to the state house in 2002 after serving on the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Alderman

    State Rep John Litx (D-Morristown): Also first elected in 2002, he is a farmer, like Jenkins, which may be appealing. In fact he won family farm of the year and tobacco farmer of the year in 1998 (from whom it doesn't say).

    State Rep. Eddie Yokley (D-Greeneville): Also elected in 2002, he is from Greeneville like Jenkins, he attended the  U.S. Army Military Intelligence Photo Interpretation School.

    •  Your pick (none)
      If you hadn't said otherwise below, I'd think you were leaning towards John Litx as your candidate of choice.  Upthread you argued that the district is very farm and tobacco heavy so someone who won "family farm of the year and tobacco farmer of the year in 1998" should be able to understand the needs of the voters.

      The only memorable thing you have said about Vaughn is that he ran before and that he is  African American.  Your description of the district as 95% white doesn't make it sound like a place where minority identity is going to be a selling point.

      ...in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent
      -G.W. Bush
      -7.00 -7.74

      by Luam on Thu Feb 16, 2006 at 01:09:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, i know Vaughn (none)
        he's my state rep. I dont know much about Litz other than whats publicly available information, so probably the main reason i'm talking about Vaugn is because, at this point, I know him better.

        But yes, if Litz were to run, i'd have to look at him.

        •  Makes sense (none)
          Ah, that makes sense then...

          Was trying to figure out if this was your district or not.  How long before the filing deadline is there a chance for everyone to sit down and figure out who in likely to be in and to recruit?

          Any chance this will prompt you to run, either for Vaugh's seat if he runs or to make sure that the seat is contested?

          ...in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent
          -G.W. Bush
          -7.00 -7.74

          by Luam on Thu Feb 16, 2006 at 11:36:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  This is where the DCC should be (none)
    recruiting someone for the district and making sure they are funded.

    We should not let any opportunity go uncontested.

    Aint scared of nobody cause I want my freedom. Aint scared of nobody cause I want my freedom now.

    by eaglecries on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 07:02:31 PM PST

  •  Marsha Blackburn (none)
    We also need a Dem to run against Marsha Blackburn (R) in the 7th district. She had no opposition in the last election. She has huge support from the prosperous, gated, republican communities in Brentwood, near Nashville, and Germantown, east of Memphis. There is a large rural area in between those two Cities full of politically moderate people who have been offered no alternative.

    Who knows. A charismatic, true blue Democrat might have a chance this time around.

    The problem with America is that it keeps voting for Democrats, but electing Republicans.

  •  This seat is heavily Republican (none)
    It has not elected a Democrat since the 1860s. Even during the "Solid South" era it elected Republicans. This seat is hopeless. I think there is a black state rep who represents part of this district who might have a shot, but even then it's probably a long-shot at best. The GOP primary will determine who represents thid district.

    Barring a bloody primary or a scandal this seat will remain safely Republican. This is the type of seat that no Democrat will run for because the result most likely is going to be a landslide defeat.

    •  1880s (none)
      though not much of a diffrence.

      Jenkins won the 1996 primary with 18% (it was an 11 way primary) and won the general with 64%, so I'm not sure its quite out there as you think.  64% is certainly hard to overcome, but not impossible.

      •  Well (none)
        If Hackett could keep Jean Schmidtt down to 52% then perhaps a Democrat could do the same in TN-1. Still, though, for a Democrat to win this seat, it would require a miracle, someone with the popularity that transcends the overall Republican nature of the district, or a flawed Republican candidate. Otherwise I'm afraid that the GOP primary will determine who takes this seat.
        •  You don't need to win (none)
          If you could get someone competitive it may help in the Senate race. You are going to need every last vote to win the TN Senate seat and maybe a democrat could rally what base there is and pull in 40% or so in TN-01 helping a Harold Ford pull a huge upset statewide.

          I think that's the GOP model. Roll to huge victories in your stronghold and just be competitive everywhere else. If the democrats can just force the GOP to spend some time and effort in TN-01 its an indirect victory.

          •  I'd say our best chance (none)
            is Nathan Vaughn, an afrian american state house member from Kingsport. the catch there is, as you see from my post breaking down the counties in the district, the district is something like 96% white.    Thats one reason why this county has voted in many republicans...there just isn't that african american vote to pull it democratic.

            However, there is a 12,000 university here (which includes a respected medical school), a large gay population, a chemical company with a lot of professional workers, and large tourist area contained within this district, as well as quite a few farmers.

            there are a lot of religous voters here, but I'm not quite sure how overwhelming they are. they're noisy, but someone like Vaugh who has been involved with a great deal of community service could help.

          •  Well that is the typical (none)
            GOTV strategy. You bring out the hardcore precincts that support you en masse. You then fight tooth and nail for the swing precincts. For the most part you ignore the other party's stronghold, focusing mainly on the few Democrats and independents who support you theter.

            You are right, though, that a strong Democratic challenge in this race might bring out voters to support the Senate and Gubernatorial candidates. So perhaps a Democrat winning 40% or so might help Ford out.

            •  another thing to consider (none)
              Bredesen, a democrat, is still unopposed for governor, at least from the last time i knew.

              one minus, i think there will be a gay marriage constitutional amendment on the ballot.  however, one further note on that...for it to become part of the constitution, it must not only get a majority, but it must receive more votes than the winning candidate for governor.  well...bredesen is unopposed. if he gets 70%+, which is a good possibility, that ban may fail, even if its gets i the high 60% of the vote

        •  Difficult, but not impossible (none)
          If we can get someone really magnetic, like Hackett or someone who is pretty in touch with the region, like Gene Taylor and we can turn even a deep red district purple.
  •  Kingsport is my hometown and this is my district (4.00)
    The reason we have not had a Dem in office is because of Jimmy Quillen. He was a Republican and held the office since sometime around the the late 30's or early 40's until he retired and groomed Bill Jenkins to fill him for him. He never never had any serious competition and everyone around here never even tried to enter the race. This area is not as Republican as you might think....espeically now and especially in Kinsport and Johnson City. We have a huge company in Kingpsort that employees about 12,000 people and good portion of those are engineers and other professionals...this is not a dumb backwards hick town and the other city a few miles up the road is Johnson City which is a college town...where my daughter attends. It is also has one of the largest gay populations in the southern part of the country. This would be a wonderful place to have a Dem takeover of Jenkins seat. WE NEED SOME ORGANIZATION THOUGH...IT'S PITIFUL HERE. During the presidental election, everything was always a day late and a dollar short in arriving. We need some strong leadership. I will work my butt off but I cannot lead. I have to take care of my elderly MIL and I'm not that well myself but I will work as hard as I can if we can get some leadership in here. We are ripe for the picking right now. Send us help!!!!!
    •  i have a nice county by county (none)
      breakdown of the district up the thread
    •  Here Are The County Chairs (none)
      According to the Tennessee Democratic Party website tndp.org here are the county chairs in the district. They list their addresses and phone numbers on the site but I think you could e-mail them if you would like to get involved.

      Johnson Cty: Terry Thompson stthom@prefered.com

      Hawkins Cty: Doug Godbee dgodbee@tndagc.com

      Sullivan Cty: Janie Barnes janieforbes@charternet.net

      Washington Cty: Linda Modica LCModica@aol.com

      Hancock Cty: Danny Turnmire turnmired@ten-nash.ten.k12.tn.us

      Hamblen Cty: Stephen Bales steveema@yahoo.com

      Greene Cty: Jackson West Jack.West@adelphia.net

      Cocke Cty: Bill Shultz shultzb@planetc.com

      Sevier, Unicoi, and Carter counties did not have e-mail contact info for their county chairs.

      Maybe one of these people locally can give assistence if you would like to contribute time or money.

    •  Get Organized... There's a DFA in TN-01! (none)
      There is little to no Democratic Party organization in TN-01.

      Aside from the fact that Republicans outnumber the Dems by outrageous margins, the real problem with the Dems in TN-01 is that the party officials all fight over (nonexistent) "turf".  If one didn't know that this was northeast Tennessee, one would think this was Memphis.  It's really pathetic - a bunch of bluehairs who do nothing for four years and who raise no money will fight tooth and nail to stop any "outsiders" (read: young people or progressives) from building the various impotent county parties.

      So what to do?

      Go around them and work with the Democracy for America group.  I checked their DFA-Link page and it looks like they're holding some kind of organization conference call this Thursday.  Might be worth calling in if you live in TN-01...?

  •  The DCCC doesn't have money to spend in (none)
    Bush's 31st best district in 2004
  •  Numbers (none)
    Any idea how Bredesen did in this district in 02?

    I know it's a deep red district at the national level, but if it is heavy GOP on the state level too then maybe it'd be better not to heavily contest it.

    If Dems find a good candidate and fund him then that will just drive up turnout in the general.  That could hurt Bredesen and especially Harold Ford Jr.

    I know it goes against the "contest every seat" strategy, but if the district is indeed unwinnable (which I am prone to believe) then let's take into account its effect on the other races.

  •  Here (none)
    This will be in tomorrow's edition of the Kingsport Times News. Sounds like Nathen Vaughn might consider running and he was the only Dem to win in this area during the last election so that be a good thing...he is well liked around here.

    Here is part of the story...

    http://www.timesnews.net/...

    Jenkins won't seek re-election to Congress
    Thursday, February 16, 2006

    By HANK HAYES
    Times-News

    U.S. Rep. William L. 'Bill' Jenkins has announced that he won't seek re-election in Tennessee's 1st Congressional District. File photo.

    U.S. Rep. William L. "Bill" Jenkins' announcement that he will not seek re-election unleashed some pent-up political ambition among some Republicans in Northeast Tennessee's 1st Congressional District Wednesday.

    Three Republicans - state Rep. David Davis of Johnson City and former Johnson City Mayors Vance W. Cheek Jr. and Jeff Anderson - said they expect to run for Jenkins' seat in the Aug. 3 GOP primary. Other GOP candidates are expected to surface.

    Davis, who owns his own health care business, was a primary runner-up for the seat in 1996. He is known as an open government advocate in the legislature.

    Cheek, an attorney who was wearing a "Jenkins for Congress" button at the Washington County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner last Friday night, chairs the Eastern Division of the Tennessee Claims Commission.

    Anderson, associate vice president of university advancement at East Tennessee State University, is Jenkins' former chief of staff.

    Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable, a Republican who also lost to Jenkins in 1996, has filed his petition for re-election but indicated he is considering a run for Jenkins' seat.

    "During the next few days, I will be talking with and listening to voters in Sullivan County and the other counties in the 1st District," Venable said in a prepared statement. "If I determine that I continue my service to my constituents in Sullivan County at a higher level and offer myself and my service to our neighboring counties at that level, I can think of no higher public calling."

    Another Republican contemplating a run for Jenkins' seat is Sevier County District Attorney General Al Schmutzer, who also ran unsuccessfully in 1996 and recently announced his retirement from his prosecutor's post.

    Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Co-Chair Anne Pope, another GOP primary runner-up in 1996, also said she is considering running for the seat. Pope is a Kingsport native and former commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

    "I have enjoyed the opportunity of working with him in Washington, and I appreciate his support of ARC," Pope said of Jenkins. "I'm not ruling anything out."

    One prominent Republican who said he isn't running for the congressional seat is Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Ron Ramsey, who again could challenge to be the state's lieutenant governor in 2007. Ramsey narrowly lost a Senate vote to current Lt. Gov. John Wilder in 2005, but Republicans now hold a working 18-15 majority in the Senate.

    Democrats haven't successfully challenged for the 1st Congressional District seat in more than 100 years, and the Tennessee Democratic Party (TDP) isn't sure if it will recruit a candidate to compete for the job this year. Former Tennessee Safety Commissioner Fred Phillips, who resigned amid an investigation of state troopers in the Tennessee Highway Patrol, has been mentioned as a possible Democratic contender for the seat. Kingsport's Graham Leonard, Jenkins' Democratic challenger in 2004, said he won't compete for the job.

    "We're going to take a look at it, (but) that's a tough district for us," TDP spokesman Mark Brown said. "We'll look at the numbers and see who we have out there. ... It's going to be an uphill battle."

    A Democrat who has competed successfully in the mostly Republican 2nd House District, state Rep. Nathan Vaughn of Kingsport, said he'll ponder running for Jenkins' seat. Vaughn has won two campaigns against Republicans to keep his state House seat. He will be up for re-election this year.

    "I really didn't think he was not going to run," Vaughn said of Jenkins. "I believe I've got a little bit of thinking to do."

  •  I think Nathen Vaughn could do it (none)
    He is for sure to the middle. I had dinner with Nathen and his wife during the last election and they are extremely warm and caring people. Nathen is a pro-life Democrat though but it would be hard for a pro-choice canidate to win around here. Nathen is very involved in the community and has an open policy. I hope he gets some encouragement...I might give him a call tomorrow. He owns his own insurance company. Not sure if he is home right now but I could leave a message of encouragement. He might be in Nashville now.
  •  I'm originally from the 1st Congressional District (none)
    I wouldn't get too excited about this as a possible pickup.  Contrary to what the poster suggests, this seat is very much a part of the bible belt.  There is a little bit of diversity in Johnson City, which is a college town, but that's about it.

    Nevertheless, I may try to persuade my father to run for this seat.  My father, who is a self made businessman, is a staunch Democrat.  He is also a Bible believing evangelical Southern Baptist, who takes both the Golden Rule, and the parable of the Sheep and Goats very seriously.  He quotes passages from the parable of the Sheep and Goats to people all of the time, and he loves to tell folks that Jesus Christ was the first bleeding heart liberal.  In short, he is a very interesting fellow, who could possibly make some waves in the District.  Unfortunately, I wouldn't be in a position to vote for him since I currently live in Knoxville, TN, which is in Tennessee's Second Congressional District.

  •  asdf (none)
    That's why I think Nathen would do wonderful here. He is a church member...in fact he sent his children to Liberty Bible College (ick). That was the one thing I didn't trust about him. Anyone that would sent their kid to Liberty can't be to Democrat but at least it would be a start. He is very much into helping people in the poorer communities. I think he would be worth a try.
  •  Had to vote fore Tina Turner (none)
    If not Bill of Prtland Maine would require that I surrender my Gay Man card. We're damn strict about that stuff.

    "Time to clean out the crap in Congress" - Jesus (D) Nazarath

    by llbear on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 10:01:34 PM PST

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