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Roe feeling ‘pretty good’ about chance of re-election

Hank Hayes • Jul 31, 2018 at 9:24 AM

JOHNSON CITY — Should the U.S. House of Representatives impeach Rod Rosenstein?

That was one of many questions presented to U.S. Rep. Phil Roe on Monday during a one-hour joint meeting of the Johnson City Press and Kingsport Times News editorial boards.

Concerning Rosenstein, the deputy U.S. attorney general overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russia in 2016, Roe said: “I don’t have any knowledge … so I don’t have any comment on Attorney General Rosenstein. … I don’t have all the facts. I think this investigation needs to play itself out and get done, and we need to move on.”

Are you confident you will be re-elected?

“I feel pretty good. … Up until June of 2016, I had never done a poll. … If you’re out doing your job every day, you get a pretty good feel. … I got (House Speaker) Paul Ryan’s pollster to do it. In 2016, 10 percent of the people in the 1st Congressional District felt the country was headed in the right direction. A month ago, I did the same exact poll, and 54 percent thought the country was headed in the right direction. … I hope I’ve earned the support of the people, and I think I have.”

Roe is running for a sixth term. He is opposed by Republican Todd McKinley in this Thursday’s GOP primary and by Democrat Martin Olsen in the November General Election if he wins the primary race.

In a joint release issued on Monday, both McKinley and Olsen took Roe to task for not participating in a forum last Thursday.

“If he doesn’t wish to spend time with the people in the district, he should stop seeking public office,” the McKinley-Olsen release said of Roe.

Roe holds a huge campaign fundraising advantage over both of them. Roe raised more than $308,000, spent nearly $295,000 and reported having about $490,000 cash on hand during this year’s first half, according to the Federal Election Commission.

In contrast, McKinley raised about $49,500, spent approximately $44,300 and had $5,032.66 cash on hand for the first half of this year. Olsen raised about $71,300, spent approximately $61,500 and had $9,789.69 cash on hand. A third candidate running in the Republican Primary is Mickie Lou Banyas, who’s raised about $6,100, spent approximately $5,000 and has $1,000 cash on hand.

What have you accomplished on veterans issues (Roe chairs the House Committee on Veterans Affairs)?

“The last 18 months, we passed over 70 bills through my committee going to the full House … 26 have been signed into law. Many of those others are over in the Senate awaiting approval which they will get. … We’ve got a Whistleblower and Accountability Protection Act. … We’ve got a Rapid Appeals Modernization Program. … We’ve got the Forever GI Bill (for veterans benefits). … We’ve funded the Choice Bill (which allows veterans to get care outside the Veterans Administration).”

How can you improve the public accessibility to your office?

“Our office has answered 75,000 letters this term or this year. We do about 5,500 individual cases per year. Quite frankly, I am not very hard to find. … It’s me and my wife most of the time. I stop and talk to people … at Sam’s, Cracker Barrel, wherever. … What will get me riled up is when people get this close to my face and they frighten my grandchildren. And they frighten my wife. … If we don’t dial this down … you see what (U.S. Rep.) Maxine Waters is doing, somebody is going to get hurt.”

Do you think President Trump will follow through on his promise to shut down the federal government if his border wall isn’t funded?

“He’s played his card like he does a lot of times, that’s a pretty big gauntlet to lay down. We passed last year 12 appropriations bills in the House. The Senate, in its wisdom, passed zero. … For the first time since 1996, the Senate has actually passed three of the appropriations bills which will go to conference. … We did our job, the Senate needs to do its job. … I hope we don’t shut the government down. … Nobody benefits from that.”

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