No good reasonThe news was out yesterday via the Kingsport Times-News that Johnson City Mayor Dr. Phil Roe will run in the Republican Congressional Primary in the First District against incumbent Republican Congressman David Davis. Since Hell will freeze over before a Democrat wins in the Fighting First (a phenomenon for which I daily thank and praise Almighty God), the Republican Primary is the only electoral game in town. Winning it makes you the Congressman-elect, and November is a mere formality.
It is true that there are plenty of people in this district who aren't fond of David Davis. After subtracting the four Democrats between here and Bristol, even many conservatives have had their reasons to mistrust Davis. The allegation floated during the 2006 Primary that Dr. Roe performed abortions was seen to have been floated by the Davis campaign. Roe not only denied it, at least one reliable source told this writer that Roe's wife confronted Davis about the charge. In this socially conservative district, that kind of charge can be viewed as seriously inflammatory if it isn't true. David Davis may not have spread that rumor, but a few of Davis' campaign supporters in the district (some of whom left comments in the past on this very weblog) didn't exactly conduct themselves in a way that could be considered civil or above-board.
There is also the reality that every one of Davis' viable 2006 Primary opponents has it out for him, and several have become friends in the wake of their 2006 experience. Perhaps the most grieved of all of these is former Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable, who lost to Davis by 500 votes amid questions about malfunctioning voting machines in Sullivan County. If anyone has cause for a second round against Davis, it would be Venable-yet Phil Roe could be Davis' only opponent.
It is during times like this that we must ask ourselves not whether the questions of 2006 should be rehashed, but whether David Davis has actually done anything so detrimental to the First District as to warrant removal from office. Perhaps the most important thing any Member of Congress does is constituent services, and that is true in the First District of Tennessee at an even greater level than in many other places-our Member of Congress tends to have far more power and influence at home than they do on the Hill. I didn't support David Davis in 2006-I originally endorsed Richard Roberts and later switched my support and very proudly backed former Johnson City Mayor Vance Cheek Jr., who I have come to consider a friend. I know that if David Davis does not read my work, that members of his staff have certainly read it and are aware that I was no supporter. Yet when I have contacted Congressman Davis' office in need of assistance on federal matters, he or his staff have been very helpful and responsive. Davis' District Director Paul Chapman has done his best to keep me abreast on everything from Congressman Davis' schedule to his whereabouts, and makes it a point to fire off a personal note to me from time to time. Congressman Davis has even sought me out personally, and we have sat across the table from one another after his election to the House.
Those things alone do not warrant re-election, but they do demonstrate that if nothing else, David Davis is dedicated to the service of the First Congressional District of Tennessee. I have talked with many people who are quick to point out that Davis is not well-liked on Capitol Hill. Neither was the late Congressman Jimmy Quillen-yet Quillen was not only the longest-serving Congressman in the history of the district (34 years), he was probably the greatest Congressman the First District has enjoyed in the post-bellum era. In challenging Davis so soon after his election, Phil Roe has very little to campaign against Davis on aside from the 2006 Primary. Roe cannot expect to win the Primary merely by campaigning on what should or should not have happened two years ago, he must prove that David Davis is simply a terrible Member of Congress, and he will not likely have the ability to do it. Dr. Roe is not likely to be beaten in August, he is likely to be pummeled like a political rag doll.
Perhaps the time may come when it would be appropriate to challenge David Davis, but that time is not after two years in office when he barely has a negative record to run against, dogfighting votes notwithstanding. A lot of people have complained about Davis, but few have managed to come up with a good reason to replace him.