Meet Your Neighbor: 5 questions with Republican-turned-Democrat Mike Morgan

Zach Vance • Aug 26, 2018 at 7:28 PM

At 46 years old, Jonesborough resident Mike Morgan has beat cancer, taught nuclear physics and electrical engineering, coached Little League baseball and served in the Navy. 

And that’s not even scratching the surface.

A native of Michigan, Morgan is also a Republican-turned-Democrat, who unsuccessfully ran in 2016 for Tennessee’s 7th House District seat. Morgan currently serves as an Executive Committee member for the Washington County Democratic Party. 


Morgan briefly: 

How long you have lived in the area and where did you graduate from?

I moved to Jonesborough in 1999, and graduated from East Tennessee State University in 2007 with a major in psychology and minor in sociology.

Favorite T.V. show? NCIS
Current book you’re reading?  Experiments in Life by Steven Sage
Guilty pleasure?  Pizza from The Black Olive in Jonesborough
Family?  5 kids, ages 14-26
Pets?  3 dogs from the Washington County Animal Shelter
Hobbies?  I've had many over the years. I've competed in amateur national championships in pool and bowling. I sang at the Appalachian State Fair in 2001, and at the Flint Fireworks Festival in 1998. I've been doing fantasy sports for decades, with multiple championships over the years.

Interesting facts about yourself?

- I taught Nuclear Physics and Electrical Engineering at the National Engineering Laboratory while in the Navy.

- I am a cancer survivor, and currently have multiple sclerosis. 

- I’ve coached Little League baseball while in Florida, and coached soccer at Persimmon Ridge in Jonesborough.



Q: Tell me a little bit about how you beat cancer? 

A: “As far as my ordeal with cancer, it began in 2003. My doctor found a lump in my neck. A biopsy was performed that confirmed that it was sarcoma. After receiving that news, I went to ETSU and applied for admission, having said to myself ‘I will get a degree or die trying.’

“Dr. Chris Dula became my adviser in my sophomore year, and he helped me make great strides in my academic abilities. In 2005, I was recognized for outstanding achievement. I was awarded the Polly Archer award for ETSU Veterans Upward Bound program enrollees. Then I was awarded by the state of Tennessee and received the Tennessee Association of School Psychologists’ academic achievement award.

“Next came the Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel award for regional academic excellence. This led to the national award for excellence from Veterans Upward Bound. They give out five each year to veterans. 

“Several surgeries and treatments later, I was declared cancer free in November 2011. In a sad twist, the man who helped me, Dr. Dula, in my academic pursuits is now battling cancer.”

Q: How did you first become interested in politics?

A: “I gained an interest in politics a few years ago. I started looking at the policies of our state legislators from the area and found that some of them were calling for a Constitutional Convention of the states in an attempt to rewrite the U.S. Constitution.

“I was appalled at this notion, as this is an attack on the very foundation of our great nation. When I joined the military, I swore an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and I have not been relieved from that oath. With this in mind, in January of 2016, I went to the election office and picked up the paperwork to run as a Republican for Tennessee state House District 7.

“I collected my signatures and was prepared to turn in my nominating petition, but a news report from our County Commission came up. They were planning to have a meeting to write a letter denouncing the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage, at a cost of thousands of dollars to local taxpayers. That was the last day that I was a Republican. The next day, rather than submitting my petition, I picked up a nominating petition for the same seat, but as a Democrat.

“At the time, I thought I would be one of only a handful of Democrats in the area. I later found that I was way off. There are thousands of Democrats in Washington County, and those numbers continue to grow. Many people have this idea that Democrats do not exist around here, which is likely why Democratic voter turnout is so low. 

Q: Why did you feel like the Democratic Party better represented your values? 

A: “Switching parties allowed me to dispel my own personal biases and stereotypes of Democrats. I had been led to believe that Democrats were in favor of open borders and illegal immigration, but they are not. They simply have different views on how those problems should be addressed, and reasonable people should be able to disagree.”

Q: You’re a Democrat who founded Safety On!, a gun and shooting club that focuses on firearm safety and responsible ownership. What are some of the misconceptions regarding Democrats?

A: “Democrats are not anti-gun, nor are they trying to dismantle the Second Amendment. In fact, (the WCDP) embraced the idea of me starting a gun club that focuses on ownership rights, as well as legislative reform to reduce gun violence in America. They understood my passion for protecting the Constitution of the United States, and share the same passion.”

Q: What are your future political aspirations? Can we expect to see you on the ballot anytime in the future?

A: “I'm not 100 percent sure whether or not I will run for office in the future, but as I consult my Magic Eight Ball, it would seem that all signs point to yes. As long as our state legislators are calling for rewriting the Constitution, I will be trying to remove them from office.”

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