“When I first ran for Congress, I wanted to lend my expertise as a doctor to the debate over how to improve our nation’s health care system,” Roe, R-Tenn., said in a news release.
“As a veteran, I also felt strongly about improving the care and benefits that our nation’s heroes receive. After being selected by my colleagues to chair the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and to co-chair of the House GOP Doctors Caucus, I believe I can help ensure East Tennesseans’ voice is heard loud and clear on some of the most important issues facing our region and nation. We are making real progress on behalf of East Tennessee, and I’m excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for our country. For this reason I’ve decided to seek another term in Congress.
“Over the last year, I believe we’ve made great strides toward comprehensive reform of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Already this Congress, we’ve delivered reforms to bring real accountability to VA and improved the GI Bill by guaranteeing eligible veterans can utilize the benefit for life. Still, there is a lot of unfinished business left on the table. There are more than 65,000 veterans in the First Congressional District, and I believe they’re counting on me to finish what we’ve started. They deserve a choice in their health care, timely access to the benefits they’ve earned and a VA that works for them.
“East Tennesseans deserve a member of Congress who will stand for their conservative values. Our tax bill has the economy moving in the right direction, and jobs are finally coming back. I look forward to discussing my campaign with you, and I thank East Tennesseans for their continued support and trust. I would also like to thank my family for their understanding as we’ve worked together over the last few months to make this decision. They are and will always be my priority, and I could not serve in this way without their love and support.”
If Roe had decided against a re-election bid, he would have been the 10th Republican House committee chair to leave Congress.
One of those thought to be seeking Roe’s seat if he did not run was Kingsport Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Miles Burdine, who denied he was interested in the job.
“I hope that Congressman Roe runs again,” Burdine said in an email. “We need him to. If he does not, there will be many other much better candidates than me who will be willing to serve.”
Roe was first elected in 2008 after defeating incumbent David Davis in the 1st Congressional District Republican primary.
Roe, a retired obstetrician/gynecologist and former Johnson City mayor, will have opposition in the August Republican primary from Todd McKinley. Dr. Martin Olsen, an East Tennessee State University ObGyn professor and medical practitioner, has announced his intent to run for the Democratic nomination.
Last year, Roe married Clarinda Jeanes, who was married for more than 40 years to the late Milligan College President Don Jeanes. Roe’s wife, Pam, passed away in March 2015.
Roe also last year was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer and he reported having successful surgery.