Gapp with Billy Reeves

Republican 1st Congressional District candidate Dr. Josh Gapp, right, talks with Hawkins County GOP Chairman Billy Reeves during a stop in Rogersville. Gapp doesn’t think the COVID-19 crisis will hurt voter turnout in the August GOP primary.

By HANK HAYES

ROGERSVILLE — Knoxville physician Josh Gapp is trying to stand out in a crowded 1st Congressional District Republican field that stands with President Trump and is pro-life.

“We have a lot of great candidates and they are running on conservative principles,” Gapp said during a stop at Hawkins County Republican headquarters.

“I think I’m probably further to the right. There’s a couple of key areas that matter to the people. One is this culture war that’s been thrown at our feet. It stems from political correctness. That was the ‘aha’ that got me out from underneath my microscope. The fabric of our country is being torn apart by political correctness. I am standing up to it. The other thing I think is important is I’m an outsider. I’ve never run for political office before. This is a project of passion for me.”

Gapp addressed these questions:

If elected, what is your plan for the district?

“There’s a couple key issues that we need to face. The key issues right now are this political correctness run amok. We can’t have Black Lives Matter coming in and disrupting our communities. This COVID crisis, we’ve got to figure out a way to get the economy back up safe and secure for everybody. We can’t afford as a country to have everything shut down. We need to get back open. President Trump was doing a wonderful job with the economy prior to this COVID. We’ve got to get back to that.”

How is the COVID crisis going to affect the Republican primary?

“COVID is making it difficult to meet people in person. We’ve done a lot of digital things. We’ve done a lot of virtual events to make up for it. We’re trying to talk to as many people as we can. I think there’s enough motivation now that the vote won’t be suppressed. I think it’s going to be a high turnout and people will go to the polls regardless of COVID.”

Do you favor a second economic stimulus?

“This is a tough one. It depends on what happens in the next couple of months.

“If we shut down the economy again, then we absolutely need to do that. If we can keep the economy from fully shutting down, I think there’s enough pent-up demand in the economy that we can let people get back to work and places open back up. The economy isn’t shut down because of market forces. It’s this exterior thing that is going on with COVID. The economy wants to jump. It wants to run.”

Early voting has begun in the August GOP primary.

A Democrat hasn’t been elected to the 1st Congressional District seat since the 19th century.