Is that an exaggeration? Take a read of Hank's article: the headline reads "Clark Bucks History In Run For 1st Congressional District"
"ELIZABETHTON — Democrat Mike Clark kicked off his campaign Saturday to run against political history in Northeast Tennessee’s GOP-controlled 1st Congressional District.
At an event held at the Carter County Courthouse in Elizabethton, Clark announced he’ll challenge first-term GOP incumbent U.S. Rep. Phil Roe for a congressional seat Democrats haven’t held since Reconstruction in the 19th century.
I understand the thought pattern here, the "narrative" being spun by the politicos of East Tenn -- "why Joe, honey," they say to me while giving me the benefit of their Timeless Wisdom, "you just have to understand that no Democrat has been elected to hold that seat in Congress since, well, that awful war of secession, and we've always voted Republican since then."
Perhaps the politicos are right - voters today make their decisions based on events from the 19th century. I know a heap of folks who live up in here who never want to waver past the line demarcating the 19th and 20th, much less the 21st century.
But I also know that for this election cycle, Hayes and the KPT have been actually reporting on a Democrat candidate's existence, something they were loathe to do until most recently. (also see this follow-up)
So things can change, especially in the media and especially in our 21st century on that new-fangled YouTube page. And from what I'm reading in the Morristown newspaper, Democrat State House Representative John Litz, now seeking the Hamblen County Mayor seat, is raising more money for his campaign than his Republican opponent, Bill Brittain.
A full draft of Mike Clark's speech follows at this link, and here's a bit of it I thought a lot of residents here in East Tennessee might like to hear about:
"You know, as I'm beginning my travels across the First District of Tennessee, one question - well, besides, "Who the heck are you?" - that I keep getting asked is, "Does a Democrat actually stand a chance this November? After all, this is a red state and East Tennessee hasn't elected a Democrat Congressman since, oh, 500 years, or something like that …"
Actually, the last Democrat to go to Washington from East Tennessee was Robert L. Taylor, and he took office in 1878 and was defeated for reelection in 1880 - leaving office in early 1881. That's 129 years and counting since this district sent a Democrat to Congress.
Well, that's why we are here today. We didn't bring the DeLorean from 'Back to the Future,' we can't hit Mr. Peabody's WayBack Machine. We don't have the ability to go back and change the past - we have to create a new future ourselves. Starting here. Starting now.
Can a Democrat win in November? They say we can't. They say the odds are stacked against us. They say Democrats in East Tennessee are disheartened. There aren't enough Democrats to win, they say.
Well, let's look at a few other things they said:
They said an African-American could never be elected president … but he was. We made history.
They said we'd never get meaningful health care reform - and we did. We made history.
It isn't going to be easy. It's going to take dedication and a lot of hard work. But we know that. We need to build on 2008, return everyone we can to the polls this November and bring in a lot of new voters too. We cannot let our spirit down. We have to keep it in mind that we have the right values, we have the right views on the issues facing America, and the First District, today. And we have an outlook that is positive, not negative. Republican leader Newt Gingrich says that if and when the GOP gains the majority in Congress, they're going to repeal everything we've worked hard to obtain - not just health care, but in education, the economy, banking reform - back, back, back to the failed policies of the past; the nasty politics of the past.
You can't go back to the future, despite catchy movie titles. You have to move forward, dare to try - we have to fight like our future depends on it. There is no other choice than to reject the failed policy of the past and instead keep moving forward to prepare for the needs of the future. Yes to innovation, Yes to common sense solutions, Yes to America's children!
Our opponent is not a Yes person, apparently. He's hard to reach - forget the open door, he has open line Friday over the telephone."