KINGSPORT — In front of a large crowd that came out on a cold, rainy night, Colonial Heights Republican Tony Shipley announced Friday he’ll run for Tennessee’s 2nd House District seat held by Democratic incumbent Nathan Vaughn.
“I see this job very differently than the incumbent. I view the representative job as a trusted advocate for all the people, not just in Nashville, but here at home, and in Washington,” Shipley told supporters during a downtown event to kick off his candidacy. “Government works best when it is closest to those that it governs. ... State reps, county commissioners and aldermen must work together closely to provide the best government possible ... anchored firmly in the ethics and values of our citizens ... advocating Sullivan County needs and not those of Shelby County.”
Vaughn, who is seeking a fourth term in the state House, was not available to comment for this story.
Shipley, an Air Force veteran and former ambulance business owner who now works for a mapping and information solutions company, may have an uphill battle.
Vaughn won the House seat over Republicans during elections in 2002 and 2004. He ran unopposed in 2006.
At the end of 2007, Shipley reported having about $8,500 cash on hand in his campaign account, according to the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance. In contrast, Vaughn reported having more than $56,000 cash on hand in his account.
But Shipley will have the help of powerful Republican friends — including Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey of Blountville and House GOP Leader Jason Mumpower of Bristol. Both of their political action committees have given money to Shipley’s campaign.
Mumpower and other GOP lawmakers addressing the crowd said Vaughn hasn’t been a “teammate” with them or Sullivan County and votes with Democratic House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh most of the time.
“Good things happen in the state Senate. Unfortunately that good legislation dies ... in the House...” Mumpower said. “Every minute the current representative for this district is in Nashville, your values are being violated.”
Shipley promised to help Republicans become the majority party in the state House, where Democrats hold a 53-46 majority.
“We need to turn up the music in Nashville,” he said.
Shipley also attacked Vaughn for voting last year for a cigarette tax increase while the state had a $1 billion-plus surplus and for voting against measures like requiring people to have photo identification to vote.
“My opponent voted against your beliefs. ... That’s going to stop,” Shipley told the crowd.
Shipley pledged to be out front on pro-life legislation, fixing Kingsport’s Memorial Boulevard, cutting the sales tax on food, being against a state income tax, and enacting education reform.
“We should place education first in the budget process and never last, thereby avoiding education being used as the whipping boy for every ill-conceived tax a governor might dream up,” he said.
Shipley also said he will work against illegal immigration.
“It costs Tennesseans over $300 million every year, or $110 per household in wasted tax dollars...” Shipley said of illegal immigration. “Tennessee needs to get tough on illegal immigration and those who encourage and support the illegal immigrant. I have no problem with legal immigration programs, but the U.S. already admits 2 million legal immigrants every year ... more than all other countries combined. ... Enough is enough.”
The 2nd House District includes parts of Kingsport, Indian Springs, Colonial Heights and Sullivan Gardens.