“Trump took a grenade to Washington,” Roe, R-Tennessee, said. “The only thing (constituents) tell me is they wish (Trump) wouldn’t tweet as much. ... If you want a job, you can get a job. ... This is the first time in my life the unemployment rate has been where it is.”
Four men who want to replace the retiring Roe — former Kingsport Mayor John Clark, state Sen. Rusty Crowe, Sullivan County Attorney Dan Street and Johnson City attorney Steve Darden — were at the event shaking as many hands as possible.
“You’ve got some big shoes to fill,” Nancy Barker, the chamber’s executive director, told the candidates.
Roe talked about what has been going on in Washington: impeachment and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tearing up Trump’s State of the Union speech.
“It’s great stuff,” Roe joked. “It’s been a real privilege to watch this fiasco go on.”
For the remainder of his term, Roe said, he will work on reducing veteran suicide and surprise medical billing.
Two other speakers at the event, state Sen. Frank Niceley and state Rep. Gary Hicks Jr., talked about state government issues.
Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, touted Gov. Bill Lee’s plan to expand rural broadband.
“Once you get fiber optics, you need nothing else,” Niceley said.
Niceley, who is a farmer, reminded the audience that the state’s No. 1 industry is still agriculture.
He also said Tennessee’s revenue stream got bigger after killing the inheritance tax and gift tax.
“We cut the tax on food by 40%, and that’s the thing no one appreciates,” Niceley said.
Hicks, R-Rogersville, talked about Tennessee being named in 2019 as the best fiscally managed state in the nation.
“Once upon a time, we were a state where no one was looking at us and the things we were doing financially, but now it’s changed,” Hicks said. “Now people are paying attention to what we are doing. ... We’ve been named as the best business climate in the country.”