Candidate gets party's nod to run as a Republican

Robert Houk • Updated Apr 18, 2020 at 5:03 PM

Tennessee Republican leaders have cleared a previously disqualified Kingsport candidate to appear on the Aug. 6 GOP ballot for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Nichole Willams, a former intern in U.S. Rep. Phil Roe’s field office in Kingsport, joins 15 other Republicans who have qualified as candidates in the primary for Tennessee’s 1st District seat in Congress. 

Williams said last week her petition to run as a Republican in the race was rejected by the party’s State Executive Committee because she had failed to vote in at least three of the last four Republican primaries.

The Tennessee Republican Party announced Thursday that Williams was among a number of  candidates who will remain on the August primary ballot following an examination of their qualifications. 

"In 2019, the Tennessee Legislature passed a law (S.B. 1354) that allowed for candidates to appeal their dismissal from the primary ballot and give them time to provide the information necessary to be on the ballot," Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden said in a news release.

State Sen. Crowe, R-Johnson City, who is also seeking his party’s nomination for the 1st District seat, joined state Sens. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, and Frank Nicely, R-Strawberry Plains, in sending a letter to GOP leaders earlier this week in support of Williams’ petition. Crowe said he had seen Williams on the campaign trail, and believes she “should be given an opportunity to run.”

“I have campaigned harder and longer than any other candidate in this race,” Williams said in an email to the Press earlier this month.

In addition to Williams and Crowe, other Republican candidates for the U.S. House include state Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville; state Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Bluff City; former Kingsport Mayor John Clark, former Johnson City Mayor Steve Darden and Washington County Board of Education member Chad Fleenor.

The field for the Democratic Primary is set with Chris Rowe, Elizabethton; Larry J. Smith, Greeneville; and Blair Walsingham, Eidson.

Independent candidate Steve Holder, Johnson City, will join the winners of the Republican and Democratic primaries on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.

Early voting for the August primaries begin July 17. The deadline to register to vote in the election is July 7.

Tennessee’s 1st District seat covers all of Carter, Cocke, Greene, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties and parts of Jefferson and Sevier counties.


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