Democratic women hold annual picnic

State Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, speaks at the Hamblen County Democratic Women’s picnic.

The Hamblen County Democratic Women held its annual picnic Saturday night at Cherokee Park and featured two guest speakers who spoke on how more Democrats are needed to represent Tennesseans in a red state.

Almost 60 people came to the Horner-Daugherty Pavilion Saturday night to eat barbecue and hear the jazz band Cool Breeze play a selection of songs.

The highlight of the picnic, though, were the speakers, State Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, and Democratic contender for the 1st U.S. Congressional District, Chris Rowe.

Johnson, a Democrat who first won her seat in 2012 then was beat by a Republican in 2014, won back her seat last November. She told the crowd Saturday night that there needs to be more people in the Tennessee General Assembly that care about health care and public education.

“We need help in Nashville,” she said. “We need more of us.”

She told the crowd not to be afraid to tell people they are a Democrat. One reason for her coming to Hamblen County is because she made a decision to try to go to as many rural counties as possible to spread the message the Democratic Party has for Tennesseans.

She said Democrats hold Tennessee values, and said there is support for expansion of Medicaid in Tennessee, which has available federal money the government has set aside for states after Obamacare passed. Tennessee decided not take that money.

“We’re just letting it sit there and let people be sick,” she said.

She also brought up how she has had to fight for women’s and LGBQT rights in Nashville.

“The government should not be telling women about the health care choices they should take,” Johnson said.

Rowe, who plans on taking on sitting U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City, told the crowd about himself.

He joked how he and Roe have similar names, but are not related. But, he said Roe was the doctor who delivered him as a baby in Johnson City.

Rowe then said, even though Roe delivered him, he plans on beating him.

“It’s time to get him out of office,” Rowe said.

Rowe said he was a six-year U.S. Air Force veteran and a fourth generation Tennessean. He said his father, who became sick and Rowe had to care for him, inspired him to run for office.

“I believe all Americans deserve health care as a human right,” he said. “I don’t believe people deserve a choice of no health care or bankruptcy.”

In a fiery part of his speech, he told the Democrats at the picnic that he does not believe Washington should be led by lies and ICE agents should not be going into homes and separating families.

Both speakers asked the crowd to volunteer and challenged those to get out and deliver the Democrat message to voters.