First Congressional District GOP candidates square off in debate

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BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Six candidates in the First Congressional District Republican primary faced off in the nearly two-hour debate at Northeast State Community College. It was sponsored by WCYB and Tri-Cities Chambers of Commerce and brought up some hot button issues heading into the August 6th primary.

Two of the presumed front-runners — Diana Harshbarger and Sen. Rusty Crowe — declined to participate.

“I’m only here because two people didn’t want to talk to the district. That’s okay because I want to serve this district,” said candidate Jay Adkins.

With Crowe and Harshbarger out, Rep. Timothy Hill became the frequent target.

“Now, you’re saying that you’re pro-Trump, yet you’re taking money from a special interest group that does not have any ties to President Trump,” said former Kingsport mayor John Clark about Club for Growth ads running in support of Hill.

“My campaign has received zero dollars from the Club for Growth,” Hill rebutted. “They supported folks like Marsha Blackburn, I suppose you’d like to go after her as well.”

Hill fired back criticizing Rusty Crowe’s role in the passing legislation allowing for the Ballad Health merger.

“I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get to talk tonight about Ballad…and not just Rusty Crowe’s involvement being on the payroll of Ballad and also passing legislation that created the inception of it but also how it’s hurting our people,” Hill said.

Hill also slammed Harshbarger.

“Diana Harshbarger is compromised on the issue of China, Hill said. “She of all people in this entire race should be answering for what she has done… for what she has been a part of but she refuses to do so.”

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