“I’ve got a confession to make,” Roe told the more than 100 who attended the first meeting of the East Tennessee Republican Club at the Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City. “I’ve got a little redneck in me. They (Democrats) have made me want to work even harder. I want to bury them.”
Roe told Republicans their hospitality was much different from the reception he received from protesters who showed up at his re-election campaign’s official kickoff at the Municipal and Safety Building just an hour before. Members of that group, who were there to protest President Trump’s immigration policies, included Dr. Marty Olsen, a Democrat running for the 1st Congressional District seat in November.
“The left is fired up,” Roe told the GOP club. “The police chief had to walk me out. That’s the nonsense we’re having to put up with.”
Roe — who will face several challengers in the GOP primary on Aug. 2 — said he is now feeling more “optimistic” about his party’s success in the midterm congressional races than he did four months ago.
“I’m feeling a whole lot better about this election, and the reason is our policies are winning and the American people are seeing that,” he said.
Even so, Roe said U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican who is expected to face former Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, in the Nov. 6 election for U.S. Senate, has a “very difficult race” in front of her. He said that is why it’s important that Republicans in Tennessee go to the polls in November.
“We can’t be silent,” Roe told Republicans. “We’ve got to be proactive and turn our voters out in the fall.”
Washington County Commissioner Suzy Williams, who serves as president of the East Tennessee Republican Club, said energizing Republicans is one of the goals of the new club. She said the club is not affiliated with any state or national Republican organization, and membership is open to all Republicans — men and women.
She also the new GOP club, which meets every second Monday of the month at 11:30 a.m. at the Carnegie Hotel, is also looking for members to join from Carter and Unicoi counties.
“We will be working with leaders of the Washington County Republican Party to recruit, fund and elect Republican candidates,” Williams said.