Trump coming to Johnson City for rally, Blackburn fundraiser

Zach Vance • Updated Sep 24, 2018 at 6:27 PM

President Donald Trump is coming to Johnson City to headline a rally and fundraiser to boost Republican Marsha Blackburn in her tough U.S. Senate race.

The rally will begin at 7 p.m. Oct. 1 at Freedom Hall Civic Center. 

"With just 44 days from today until the midterm elections, President Trump looks forward to sharing the great news about the booming economy that's delivered new jobs and bigger paychecks to Tennessee families," Michael Glassner, COO for Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., said in a news release.

"The president will also remind Tennesseans of the critical importance to get out and vote for Marsha Blackburn for the U.S. Senate."

Johnson City spokeswoman Keisha Shoun confirmed an agreement has officially been signed to host the function at Freedom Hall Civic Center.

Tickets for the rally can be found by visiting www.donaldjtrump.com, where up to two tickets per mobile phone number can be acquired. Tickets will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Doors will open at 4 p.m.

Tickets for a separate fundraiser will reportedly cost $10,000 per couple, which includes a photo with Trump; or $25,000 per couple, which includes the photo and a roundtable with Trump, the Associated Press reported. The fundraiser contributions will fuel Blackburn’s joint fundraising committee. Hendersonville, Tennessee-based firm Southland Advantage is reportedly organizing the fundraiser. 

“President Trump so appreciates the people of Tennessee, and we look forward to welcoming him back to our state and having him on the campaign trail with Team Marsha,” Blackburn campaign spokesman Abbi Sigler said in an emailed statement. 

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe and Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Lee are expected to speak during the rally before Blackburn and Trump take the stage.

Earlier this month, Blackburn declined an invitation to debate her Democratic opponent Phil Bredesen in Chattanooga on the same date, Oct. 1. 

"I regret to inform you that we will be unable to attend your debate," Brett O'Donnell, who was handling debate matters for the Blackburn campaign, told the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, the event’s sponsor . 

Mark Brown, Tennessee Democratic Party spokesman criticized Blackburn, saying "Tennesseans should get the message loud and clear: nothing matters to Congresswoman Blackburn except exclusive fundraisers and D.C. campaign cash.”

Soon after the rally was announced, the Washington County Democratic Party began organizing a protest to take place between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the vicinity of Freedom Hall. 

"The Washington County Democratic Party wanted to ensure local voters had an opportunity to tell President Trump and Marsha Blackburn what they believe in, issues they support, and obstacles they're facing,” Washington County Democratic Chairwoman Kate Craig said in a statement.

“This is why we organized this counter demonstration; to give voters a platform to share their concerns. The Democratic voter turnout last August in Washington County was on the rise and we expect that trend to follow this November."

Blackburn’s contest is drawing heavy interest from the White House. Vice President Mike Pence has already attended two Tennessee fundraisers and two public events with Blackburn, including appearances last week in Knoxville. Trump headlined a Nashville fundraiser and rally with her in May.