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Davis hires law firm, says outsiders may have influenced election

Hank Hayes • Aug 12, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Defeated Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. David Davis moved toward challenging his narrow GOP primary loss to Johnson City Mayor Phil Roe on Monday by suggesting that “some outside groups” may have tried to “improperly influence” the primary.

Davis said he has hired a national law firm that has worked on recounts to examine the issue.

“It does appear there has been some voting irregularities in the Republican primary,” Davis said. “It does appear Tennessee election law may have been violated. We are working with a constitutional law firm to protect the voting rights of Republican primary voters. This is not about David Davis or Phil Roe. This is about the sanctity of the voting process, which must be protected.

“There were a lot of Democrats voting in the primary. Tennessee law prohibits crossover vote unless you intend to have loyalty to that party.”

Roe said he was confident that his winning 486-vote margin would stand and noted he’s gotten a congratulatory letter from Tennessee Republican Party (TRP) Chair Robin Smith.

Tennessee law allows for a recount if there is an indication of voter fraud.

State Elections Coordinator Brook Thompson said the Roe-Davis primary result could be state certified about a week after Aug. 18, following certification actions taken by county election commissions.

Afterward, Davis could put the recount issue before TRP’s Primary Board.

In 2006, the board unanimously voted to deny 1st Congressional District GOP runner-up Richard Venable’s request for a recount in his 576-vote loss to Davis.

Venable contended that many voters were beset by problems at polling locations.

“The lines were so long and the voting was so slow. There was a question that voters were disenfranchised and left,” Roe recalled.

The 1st Congressional District hasn’t elected a Democrat in more than 100 years.

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