JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Saying he’d heard from “dozens if not up to 100 constituents” since Friday, Tennessee State Rep. David Hawk (R-5th) said Monday he is “closer to saying I’m excited about a run than I was three days ago.”
Speaking prior to a meeting of the Washington County Republican Women, Hawk, who’s served in the house since 2003, said several factors will determine whether he’ll run in the August Republican primary. Six-term Rep. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City) announced Friday he would retire at the end of this term.
Hawk, a self-proclaimed budget hawk from Greeneville, said the workload of the upcoming General Assembly and money will both be major considerations. He projected the primary alone will require half a million to a million in funding for a candidate to be competitive. He said he expects to make a final decision within two to three weeks.
If elected, Hawk said he’d focus on constituent services while hoping to dig in policy-wise on budget issues and federal involvement in provision of mental health services.
“I plan to continue my service in the legislature through this legislative session,” said Hawk, who chairs the house’s TennCare subcommittee and serves on the finance and ways and means committees as well as the higher education and ways and means subcommittees.
If he runs, Hawk said, “I’d be home on weekends taking care of my daughters and politicking.”
He said one of the biggest issues facing any prospective candidate is money. It’s going to cost a minimum of half a million dollars in a primary, most likely it’s going to be a million dollars.”
With multiple solid candidates likely to vie for the post in the most competitive primary since 2006, when Rep. Bill Jenkins retired, there will be limited resources available.
“Being able to pick your favorite child so to speak is going to be difficult for folks in the region, so we’re weighing all those decisions as we go forward, but today I’m closer to saying I’m excited about a run than I was three days ago.”
If he runs and is elected, Hawk said he’ll endeavor to continue what he called a tradition of helping people in the district who face issues related to federal government.
“Someone has an issue with the VA, we’re right there to help them,” Hawk said. “Someone has an issue with disability, we’re right there to help them. I want to continue that legacy of strong constituent services should I decide to run for Congress.”
Hawk said his familiarity with the legislative process, honed through 16 years in the state house, would help him “work with the leadership hierarchy in Washington with (House Minority Leader) Kevin McCarthy and other folks. I would know day one what it would be like to hit the ground running and go.”
Hawk said his skill set “resides in working on budgets and budget documents,” and called the current federal deficit “unmanageable” and “embarrassing.” The fiscal 2020 federal budget is projected to exceed $1 trillion.
“We need to do a better job of managing our federal budget, we don’t need to do deficit spending, we need to live within our means, and I think I can bring a sense of normalcy to the budget process in some way shape or form,” Hawk said.
Hawk also said he’d like to bring mental health care issues more to the forefront if elected.
“I’ve been a leader in trying to bring more mental health services to our region. I think our citizens are crying out even moreso now than they were several years ago that we need more help with mental health and substance abuse. The federal government has never really gotten involved as they could or I believe they should in those issues, and I want to be a leader in trying to bring those services back to the citizens of Northeast Tennessee should I run.”