Civics 101: Tennessee's First Congressional District

J. H. Osborne • Jan 6, 2020 at 5:30 PM

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe announced on Friday he will retire and not run for a seventh term in 2020 to represent Tennessee’s First Congressional District.

That's led to a bit of chatter already about who might or might not run for the seat. Around our immediate region, speculation seems to focus on, well, folks from around here.

But potential candidates can emerge from any of the 12 counties that make up the district: Carter, Cocke, Greene, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Johnson, Sevier, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington.

Yes, the district runs from the northeast tip of the state in Johnson County to Sevier County. Here are some quick facts about the district:

• Tennessee has a total of nine congressional districts, numbered from east to west.

• The First Congressional District has total population of 720,358, according to the latest available figure from the U.S. Census. And 578,249 of those residents are of voting age.

• In the last run for the seat, on Nov. 6, 2018, 224,282 voters cast ballots. Roe won with 172,835. Democratic candidate Marty Olsen garnered 47,138 votes. And indendent candidate Michael D. Salyer received 4,309 votes.

• While the district covers 12 counties, Sullivan County had the most voters in the 2018 election, followed by Washington County. The counties with the top five numbers of voters in that election were: Sullivan (53,961); Washington (43,750); Sevier (29,700); Greene (20,087) and Carter (17,883).

• Would-be candidates can't start the process of becoming qaulified until Feb. 3. That's the day petitions will become available. The deadline for filing is noon on April 2. That's to get on the ballot for party primaries to be held Aug. 6. Primary winners will face off when voters go to the polls for the presidential and state general election on Nov. 3.


• To seek or hold the office of U.S. House of Representative, a person must be at least 25 years of age, a citizen of the United States for seven years and a Tennessee resident.

• Candidates may obtain a nominating petition from a county election commission office or the office of the coordinator of elections. Each page of the petition issued must be signed by the candidate and an election official and may not be photocopied. Additional pages may be obtained as necessary.

• The nominating petition must be signed by at least 25 voters who are registered in the candidate's house district and the candidate. The signature of the candidate does not count toward the required 25 signatures. Each voter who signs the petition must also supply his or her residence address as it appears on his or her voter registration record.