Roe to challenge Davis for congressional seat

Hank Hayes • Jan 17, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Johnson City Mayor Phil Roe’s anticipated 1st Congressional District bid against incumbent Republican David Davis is initially expected to depend on Roe’s ability to write checks to his own election campaign.

Roe, a Republican who will hold a news conference next Tuesday to announce he will run for Davis’ seat, financed more than 40 percent of his 2006 congressional primary campaign when he placed fourth in a field of more than a dozen candidates.

Roe could not be reached for comment on Thursday, but an e-mailed advisory said he would retire from his medical practice and announce his candidacy in the commission chambers at the Johnson City Municipal and Safety Building.

An Army veteran, Roe has practiced gynecology for more than 30 years. In his 2006 campaign, Roe touted his medical experience and called for health care reform that included medical malpractice reform.

When asked for a response to Roe’s expected candidacy, Davis said: “The good thing about America is that anybody can run — even somebody who came in fourth in the last election and couldn’t win his home county, and somebody who doesn’t have state or federal legislative experience.”

In recent weeks, Roe has been talking with 2006 GOP primary runner-up Richard Venable about whether either of them should run against Davis, who defeated Venable by about 500 votes. Roe indicated it wouldn’t be a good idea for both of them to run.

In that 2006 primary campaign, Roe added about $184,000 in self-financing while raising a total of approximately $430,000, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). He terminated his Federal Election Commission (FEC) account late last year, records show.

Davis reported having about $162,000 cash on hand at the close of 2007, according to his FEC campaign account. He has raised more than $350,000 during the two-year election cycle but has spent over $256,000. Davis’ campaign contributions are almost evenly divided between individual and political action committee gifts, according to CRP.

CRP records also indicate Davis has not repaid himself for giving his own campaign $160,000 during the 2006 primary.

Davis pledged to wage an aggressive re-election campaign based on his conservative record.

“I’m a hard worker and use a lot of East Tennessee common sense for problems facing America, and I think that’s what voters are looking for,” Davis said. “Some people concentrate on politics. I’m concentrating on doing a job.”

A Democrat hasn’t held the 1st Congressional District seat in more than 100 years.

The GOP congressional primary will be held Aug. 7.

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