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Davis blames loss to Roe in Republican primary on Democratic crossovers

Hank Hayes • Aug 8, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. David Davis said this morning that crossover Democrats voting in the 1st Congressional District Republican Primary contributed to his narrow defeat against GOP challenger Phil Roe.

“We believe there was a lot of Democrat switchover vote,” Davis said. “It is legal in the state of Tennessee for Democrats to go switch their allegiance in a primary. From what we saw around the polling places yesterday, we saw people with (Democrat state Rep.) Nathan Vaughn (of Kingsport) and Phil Roe campaign literature together. I think we won the Republican Primary with Republican Primary voters yesterday. I think he ultimately won the election with Democrat switchover vote.”

According to the Tennessee Division of Elections, Roe received 25,918 votes to Davis’ 25,458 votes.

Davis confirmed his campaign internal polling showed him with a 10-point lead earlier this week.

Davis’ campaign sent out an e-mail Wednesday asking supporters to look out for voter fraud, but Davis didn’t mention if any fraud was detected.

He also didn’t say if he will seek a recount.

“I really don’t know,” Davis said. “We’re going to take a look at it and see what the numbers bear out. It’s just too early to tell what we’re going to do. I feel blessed to have represented the people of East Tennessee and may have the opportunity to do that again. We’ll just wait and see what the numbers show.

“If Phil Roe has won the race I wish him the best and we’ll see how he represents the people of East Tennessee.”

Davis also indicated he hasn’t called Roe to concede the bitter primary race, which featured negative TV ads on both sides.

“I think we did exactly what we needed to do. I think we ran a good race,” Davis said. “When you have someone come out and say you’re taking bribes, basically, which would be illegal, you have to respond. I wish it would have been a much more positive race, but (Roe) chose differently.”

Two years ago, the Tennessee Republican Party (TRP) Primary Board unanimously voted to deny 1st Congressional District GOP primary runner-up Richard Venable’s request for a recount in his 576-vote loss to Davis.

Thirty-eight members on the TRP’s 66-member state executive committee, which serves as the primary board, acted quickly to turn away Venable’s request in late August 2006.

In a prepared release issued early this morning, Roe called for unity.

Roe also indicated he was grateful for Davis’ service in Congress and Davis’ previous career in the Tennessee state House.

“I look forward to working with him,” Roe said of Davis.

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