Roe announces plan to retire from Congress, setting off mad scramble

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City) announced Friday he won’t seek a seventh term in Congress, a decision likely to set off a mad scramble among potential successors. State lawmakers expected to consider bids include House Republican Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison of Cosby and fellow GOP Reps. David Hawk of Greeneville, Timothy Hill of Blountville, and maybe even Micah Van Huss of Jonesborough. Jon Lundberg of Bristol is the only sitting  state Senate member believed to be mulling it over. Add to that a laundry list of current and former mayors from northeast Tennessee district. It’s likely to be a wild ride.

For an in-depth look at previous races and potential candidates in the 1st District, see the Dec. 6 print edition of The Tennessee Journal.

Here’s Roe’s full statement:

Serving East Tennesseans these past 11 years has been the honor of my life, and I will be forever grateful for the trust my friends and neighbors put in me to represent them. As someone who practiced medicine for over 30 years, I said I would serve five or six terms because I never intended this job to be a second career. After prayerful consideration, I have decided to retire at the end of the 116th Congress.

First and foremost, I want to thank my family. No one could do this job without a loving a supportive family, and I look forward to spending more time at home with my wife Clarinda, my adult children and my grandchildren.

As a veteran, I was honored to be selected to chair the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in 2017. I had one, three and six-year legislative goals for the committee: to increase access to care, improve the electronic health records system, review VA assets to ensure an effective use of resources, and bring true accountability to the department. I never could have imagined that we would accomplish all that in my first term leading the committee – in large part because of the leadership of President Trump. In particular, I was proud to author the MISSION Act – a transformative piece of legislation to ensure veterans have the ability to receive the best possible care now, and in the future – and the Forever GI Bill – to ensure veterans never lose access to the education benefits they have earned. I’ll leave Congress at the end of the year knowing that our nation’s heroes are better served today because of our work. I am still hopeful that, before the 116th Congress adjourns, we will pass important reforms that improve outreach to veterans in crisis to address the suicide epidemic.

When I first ran for Congress, my hope was that someone with experience as a practicing physician could positively influence health care policy. The Affordable Care Act was signed into law during my first term, and much of my time was spent trying to undo some of the harm that was done to the patient-centered health care model as a result. We have made great progress in reversing some of the most damaging effects of this law such as passing my bill to repeal a government payment setting board that likely would have rationed care. We took the teeth out of the individual mandate and just last month repealed three harmful taxes that discouraged medical innovation and drove up costs for patients. I am also very proud of legislation I introduced while chairing the Republican Study Committee’s Health Care Task Force that would replace the ACA with reforms to actually lower costs for patients and improve the quality of health care. Perhaps most significantly, as co-chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus, I led my colleagues in the fight to repeal the Medicare formula which threatened patients’ access to their physicians and to improve Medicare for seniors. I am still hopeful that before this Congress ends, we will address surprise medical bills in a way that protects patients and is fair to doctors and payers.

As a senior member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, I was proud to be on the forefront of some very consequential accomplishments. The work we did to help workers’ retirement security through multiemployer pension reforms in 2014 is significant. I was also pleased to be a part of passing the Every Student Succeeds Act to repeal and replace the burdensome federal mandates associated with No Child Left Behind Act. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, we were able to provide careful oversight of labor reforms being pursued by the Obama administration that were holding back job growth. There’s no question in my mind this oversight played a part in helping the Trump administration identify those burdensome rules and regulations.

Finally, I’m proud of the bipartisan successes. They don’t always make the headlines, but they are critical to our nation’s future. Legislation I authored has dramatically increased the availability of lifesaving epinephrine in schools for those who suffer from deadly food allergies; and the Desert Storm and Desert Shield War Memorial will be built on the National Mall in the coming years as a result of four years of effort to get my bill across the finish line.

The challenges we are facing now as complex as ever, and I still have a lot of fire in my belly. I look forward to finishing my term strongly for the East Tennesseans that I love representing and working with President Trump in favor of the free-market, conservative policies so many of us hold dear. I am equally confident East Tennessee is full of capable public servants who will step up to fill my void, and I am ready to give them the opportunity to do so.

I will always cherish the friends I’ve made and people I’ve met. I could not be more grateful to my family, my staff, the volunteers, the veterans, and the numerous East Tennesseans who have made this job so rewarding.

Thank you for giving me the great honor to represent you in Congress.

22 Responses to Roe announces plan to retire from Congress, setting off mad scramble

  • Stuart I. Anderson says:

    WHAT WONDERFUL NEWS!!!!! It doesn’t make up for our dreadful Senate race but now conservatives have something to look forward to this August.

    What a great opportunity to continue moving the Tennessee Republican delegation even further to the right. Anyone will be more conservative than Lamar, Marsha is more way more conservative than Corker, Green is to the right of Marsha, both Burchett and Rose look like they will be more conservative than Duncan and Black, while Kustoff is considerably more conservative than Fincher.

    Just think, the exciting race as to who can be the most worthless Republican in the House from Tennessee is finally in its last year between Roe (Heritage-70%) and Fleischman (Heritage-71%). Thank goodness it will finally be over at the end of this year.

  • Blessings to you Congressman for your honorable service. As I travel the State seeking election to the U.S. SENATE in 2020, I am humbled by those who have served with distinction. Thank You…

  • Stuart I. Anderson says:

    So many fine conservatives considering getting into this race. I have been a long-time supporter of Timothy Hill, while the only one to be out of the question is Jeremy Faison who conservatives simply must reward for being a member of the Toadying Ten who voted AGAINST closing Tennessee’s Republican primary to liberal Democrats despite the desires of a vast majority of Republicans. Hopefully the voters in the First District will want to nominate a candidate from the General Assembly with a voting track record.

    • James White says:

      Most voted for a Constitutional Convention. This is Not a good century for a convention.

    • LeeAnn C. says:

      Raison just got my vote. Closed primary is a DISASTER!

      • LeeAnn C. says:


        • Stuart I. Anderson says:

          Especially if you are a liberal who has no hope that a Democrat can be elected in Tennessee outside of our two or three liberal ghettos and you want some vestige of hope that your vote can count for something so you take advantage of the stupid laws favored by Faison and his Republican establishment overseers and vote for the “wettest” Republican on the ballot. Can’t blame you one bit, but conservatives should be outraged and they understandably are!

          • JAMES B. GARRETT says:

            LeeAnn, why is a closed primary a DISASTER? We are talking about Primary Elections – not the general elections where everyone votes for whomever. What is wrong with Republicans electing their candidate and democrats electing their candidate? Both candidates can then duke it out in the General Election. It is only a disaster if democrats, who want to cross-over and vote for a Republican whom they feel they can beat in the general election, are prevented from doing so by having a closed primary system. Why shouldn’t the ten Republicans in Davidson County be able to select their own candidate without eleven democrats crossing over to select him or her for them?

            Democrats certainly do not like Republicans and certainly would not vote for one. The only reason they would vote for a Republican would be if it is to their advantage such as to get weaker opposition or a more favorable opposition to their views. Republicans have very little reason to cross over to vote for a democrat except in those few locations where democrats dominate. Independants do not like either party or they would not be independants. Why would a democrat or Republican want some one who doesn’t like you to select you to run for an office? No I think it is only a disaster for the democrat mindset.

          • LeeAnn C. says:

            Many conservatives have NO desire to align themselves with the Republican party. These are the voters that would never vote in the Democratic primary. Republicans have a lot to lose in assuming that conservatives will continue to vote in primaries if they are blackmailed by party membership in order to do so. The few liberals that might see themselves as manipulating results would have no qualms with lying at the primary. Closing the primaries would result in many conservatives staying home. Don’t take my word for it. Just ask some people that you know as voters if they would participate. I’ve asked around and find many that won’t.

          • Stuart I. Anderson says:

            LeeAnn, I hate to go Clintonion on you, but it all depends what you mean by “align.” I hope we can all agree that I am sort of conservative, and for me JOB ONE is to remake the Republican Party into a party that is as conservative as the Democratic Party is liberal. The present incarnation of the Republican Party with its dithering, craven, fecklessness making it nothing more than a shill for the Chamber of Commerce infuriates me.

            I would describe myself as a “Dissident Republican,” but a Republican nevertheless. Am I “aligned” with the Republican Party? Yes, in a way, but what does that mean practically? By simply voting in the Republican I am Tennessee’s version of a “member” of the Republican Party, but not really, or not in any practical sense unless I join my local party county organization, and in this democracy I’m certainly not “blackmailed” to do so in any case.

            Closed primaries will have no effect on any of this. I readily agree that a liberal like yourself in a place like East Tennessee will vote in the Republican primary probably simply to vote for the most liberal candidate running since winning the Republican Primary is tantamount to winning the general election no matter how terrible the Republican candidate and you will lie to do that if you are determined enough to do what you can for what you believe. Doing what you do, however, should not be encouraged given the purpose of primaries as James B. Garrett described. In fact, it should be actively discouraged by making you register with a party at least 30 days before a primary in order to vote in that primary rather than asking you that stupid question when you show up at the polls, “what party will you be voting in.”

            The present system is a racket that a healthy majority of members of the Republican Executive Committee voted to change. The centrist/tepid conservatives who control the Republican Party establishment using the Toadying Ten in the legislature, prominently including your pal Jeremy Faison, want to make it as easy as possible for the LeeAnns of the world to vote in the Republican primary secure in the belief that LeeAnn will vote for the most leftward leaning Republican on the ballot; its as simple as that. With an estimated 10% -15% of the typical Republican primary voters consisting of liberal Democrats that amounts to yet another hill for conservatives to climb. Conservatives should punish any pol like Faison who perpetuate this racket!

          • James White says:

            LeeAnn is correct.

          • James White says:

            Stuart is correct ” sort of conservative” but more correct would be ” I will vote Republican EVERY time, at least it is better than the Demoncrrat”.
            Voters like Stuart is why the Republican party is becoming more Liberal, Not because of LeeAnn.

          • Stuart I. Anderson says:

            Of course James I completely understand your position. Instead of voting for the most conservative Republican in the Republican primaries that has a chance to win and then, if we can stand it, vote Republican in the general election lets busy ourselves choosing among the most desirable independent who, if we are real lucky might just get over 1% of the vote. NOW THAT’S WHAT WILL TRANSFORM THIS COUNTRY BY GOSH!

          • LeeAnn C. says:

            I’ve never voted for a Democrat. You make a lot of assumptions without knowing people. Seriously, ask around the Tea Party and Libertarian voters. They HATE the Republican party, but vote for Republicans – not Democrats. Close the primaries and those voters will stay home.

    • Perry Aubric says:

      I actually agree with Stuart, who usually is substantively and philosophically wrong on almost every issue, about closing primaries. For more than 40 years, I have advocated closed primaries. We need party registration. Only Republicans should vote in a Republican primary, and the same goes for Democrats for their primaries. I believed this when Democrats were winning all the statewide races as Republicans voted in their primaries, and I believe it now that things have changed.

      Theoretically, that is actually the law now. But challenging someone at the polls is very rare, and any voter can overcome a challenge pretty easily.

      Closed primaries would be good for both parties.

  • Phil Lassiter says:

    It’s whoever has the most money. There are plenty of millionaire elitists from East TN that want to be in Congress. I’d say will cost about 3 million to win the primary.

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      What a wonderful opportunity then for some plutocrats with no political record like Bill Lee or an anemic sort of centrist/tepid conservative record – sort of like Chairman Manny, but who might want to run some day as some fire breathing conservative – sort of like Chairman Manny, to begin to establish his conservative bona fides by contributing to the campaign of someone like Timothy Hill and continue to make similar contributions until he throws his hat in the ring. There you have it, a free brilliant political suggestion so we may be spared the nonsense in the future that is the Sethi campaign today.

  • LeeAnn C. says:

    Dr. Roe will be missed! He’s a fabulous role model for future congressmen!

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      As I said LeeAnn, you are a liberal so have fun while you can voting in the Republican Primary but one of these days, given the Republican establishment’s craven, feckless, uninspiring style of governing the Democrats will make a comeback and your vote will count for something in the Democratic Primary and we will have rational voting laws in this state so you will be back voting in the Democratic Primary where you belong.

      • LeeAnn C. says:

        As Margaret Thatcher said, “If they attack you personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” I’ve never voted for a Democrat and never will.

        • Stuart I. Anderson says:

          Good for you LeeAnn! I can certainly understand why you want to clarify that for the record.

          Frequently when submitting a response I will mention the fact that I am a conservative in order to let readers know EXACTLY where I am coming from which gives much needed context as to what I am saying. Lacking that, it’s sometimes hard to tell.

  • JAMES B. GARRETT says:

    LeeAnn thank you for your reply to my soapbox posting. I see several dynamics at play in this discussion. I do agree with you there are those who align themselves with the Tea Party and those who consider themselves to be Libertarians who absolutely hate the Republican party – for that matter they may equally hate both the Republican and democrat parties. And yet, they vote in Republican primaries.
    And by doing so, they make a declaration of their allegiance to the Republican party. If they make that declaration without any intention of aligning with the party, to me, they are lying and that makes them liars. Does it not?

    Of this group of which you are talking about, should there be a party registration requirement, possibly a third will stay home and not vote in a primary. Of the group, possibly a third will see the handwriting on the wall in a two-party system world (such as is the United States) and will register affiliation with the Republican party. Finally, the remaining third will continue to do what they have been doing and will continue to vote as they have always done. The net effect will be we will see candidates selected in primaries with smaller total numbers but not smaller relative percentages.

    When it comes to the General election, everyone will come out to vote as they normally would because party affiliation has NO effect on the General election. The Republicans and democrats will get their near 50/50 split of voters; the Libertarian candidate will get their 3%; the Green Party candidate will get their 1%; the Constitution Party candidate will get her 0.2% share and the Reform Party
    candidate will get their 0.02% share.

    LeeAnn, you are correct. Party affiliation at voter registration will influence PRIMARY elections but not the General elections. This is particularly true if party affiliation is tied to voter participation as it is now. If I may, may I point out Tennessee Code Annotated Section 2-7-115(b). However, by having voters register an affiliation prior to the elections, the political parties and candidates will benefit by allowing them time to focus their resources on voters who are likely to support them in the upcoming election.

    Just my thoughts.

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