Tennessee's Phil Roe could be 10th GOP chairman to call it quits

Simone Pathe, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe, the chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, says he'll decide in the "next week or so" whether to run for a sixth term, citing family considerations as a reason he may opt against re-election.

If he decides against running, Roe will be the 10th Republican committee chairman to announce he won't run for re-election in 2018. Roe took the helm of the committee at the beginning of the 115th Congress.

"I truly have not decided," the congressman said Monday night when asked whether he's close to a decision.

Roe raised just $3,700 during the fourth quarter of 2018, which he said was a reflection of him not having made a decision yet. He raised less than $100,000 during each of the three previous quarters of 2017, and only $14,000 during the first quarter of the year.

Roe wants to make a decision soon.

"The filing's not 'til April, but if I decide not to I want to make sure people have enough time to get a campaign together," Roe said.

The retired obstetrician and gynecologist represents the deeply red 1st District in northeastern Tennessee. He defeated freshman Rep. David Davis in the 2008 primary.

The former mayor of Johnson City was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017. When asked about his plans for re-election by Kingsport Times-News reporters in late January, Roe said he was waiting for the results of medical tests and cited his role as Veterans Affairs chairman. He said Monday he's in good health.

If Roe retires, four of Tennessee's nine House members won't be seeking re-election in November. Sen. Bob Corker isn't running either.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race for Roe's 1st District Solid Republican. President Donald Trump won the district by nearly 60 points in 2016. If he doesn't run, Roe suggested the GOP field to replace him could include local elected officials and first-time candidates.

A number of names are already being thrown around in the state. They include state Rep. Timothy Hill; Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge; Kingsport Chamber of Commerce President Miles Burdine, who represents the 1st District on the Tennessee Board of Regents; state Rep. David Hawk; and Patrick Jaynes, deputy chief of staff and state director to Sen. Lamar Alexander. Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is mentioned as a wildcard. He played football at the University of Tennessee and could bring his own money to the race.

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