ROGERSVILLE — Tennessee state Sen. Rusty Crowe seemingly has nothing to lose even if he loses.
Crowe, 73, is among the 16 candidates seeking the GOP nomination for the 1st Congressional District seat to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Phil Roe. A Democrat hasn't held the seat since Reconstruction.
Crowe, an attorney who has been in the state Senate for nearly 30 years, chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
If he loses the 1st Congressional District August GOP primary, he will still hold his Senate seat because he is in the middle of his term. If he wins and goes on to win the November general election, there's about a 100-day window where the Washington County Commission could appoint someone to the Senate seat, but a subsequent special election would be held, according to Crowe.
"I would hope they would appoint someone who would pledge not to run for the seat because they might have an unfair advantage," Crowe said during a stop last Saturday at the Hawkins County Republican Party headquarters.
Crowe addressed these questions:
What's your main message?
"We've got deep trouble in Washington, D.C. Congress is so divided and polarized. We've done such a good job in Tennessee in putting Tennessee on top. We're number one in fiscal management. We're triple-A bond rated, so if we do have to borrow money, it's very easy. We try not to. We pay as we go, like with our roads. We don't borrow money. The Rainy Day Fund, I started that years ago. The last three years, our budget has been balanced with no new debt. We're in great shape in Tennessee, and it's because we have followed those Tennessee conservative principles of lower taxes and less government, personal responsibility and faith and family. My goal would be to take those goals and principles to take those values up to D.C. D.C. needs a darn good dose of Tennessee."
If you win the seat, how many terms will you commit to serve?
"I have always agreed with my constituents. ... Many feel that in D.C., there should be term limits. I would serve as long as I'm healthy. I think Congressman Roe served six terms, 12 years. I think around 10 years or so."
Is there a legislative cause you would champion?
"When Republicans had control years ago and did not keep their promises ... we didn't try to take on Obamacare. We didn't take on immigration and try to secure the border. And we certainly didn't pass a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. Those things have to be done. We've got to work on those things. We've got to work with those conservative Democrats in the House ... kind of like (former President) Ron Reagan and (House Speaker) Tip O'Neill to get things done for the country instead of worrying about each other's ideologies. (President Donald) Trump has had to do it all on his own."
Early voting begins July 17.