WJHL – Nichole Williams, whose Republican credentials were challenged early this month, will remain on the GOP primary ballot for the First Congressional District seat being vacated by the retiring Phil Roe.
Williams is a former intern for Roe who publicly announced she would run in the fall of 2019, before Roe’s retirement announcement. She was the first public candidate, with none of the other 14 current contenders declaring until after Roe said in early January he wouldn’t seek re-election for what would have been a seventh term.
Two area party members challenged Williams’ Republican bona fides on the grounds that she hadn’t voted in at least three of the previous four Republican primaries.
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After learning of the challenge, Williams sought qualified Republicans to vouch for her. Several lawmakers did, including State Senator Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City), who is among her opponents for the Congressional nomination.
“My Republican candidacy for the 1st Congressional District was blindsided thanks to the deliberate meddling of another candidate,” Williams said.
Williams said Cocke County Commissioner Forest Clevenger helped contact Representative Jeremy Faison, while she reached out to Senator Frank Nicely. They then got Crowe and State Senator Jon Lundberg involved, Williams said.
“I loved Senator Crowe’s quote in the press, it made my day. Senator Lundberg encouraged me throughout the appeal process. I am thankful for the hundreds of emails and every phone call on my behalf and I’m excited to officially be a Republican Candidate for Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District!”
A 2019 state law allows candidates who are dismissed from a ballot due to state party rules to appeal, “and give them time to provide the information necessary to be on the ballot,” state GOP Chairman Scott Golden said in a Thursday evening news release.
Along with Williams, three U.S. Senate candidates who’d had their candidacies challenged were deemed qualified to remain on the ballot, along with one state senate candidate.
“I am happy that these candidates have worked to meet our standards and look forward to candidacies this summer,” Golden said.
Two U.S. Senate candidates, three candidates for Tennessee’s Third Congressional District and another for the Ninth District lost their appeals and their names will not be restored to the ballot.
“We appreciate everyone’s willingness to offer themselves for public office and we absolutely trust the voters to determine which Republican candidates best represents their ideas, positions, and policies,” Golden said.
Williams is running a grassroots campaign with a libertarian-leaning platform that includes support for firearms purchases with essentially no restrictions, but also strong opposition to abortion.
Williams supports construction of a wall on the Mexican border, a balanced federal budget and further economic deregulation, and is opposed to the hospital merger that created Ballad Health.