JOHNSON CITY, Tenn (WJHL) — Tennessee state Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) says he’s seriously considering a run for the United States Congress.
Crowe says he’s been overwhelmed by calls and emails from East Tennesseans asking him to run.
“I’ve been getting call after call – the response is overwhelming,” Crowe told News Channel 11 Friday afternoon, one week after Rep. Phil Roe announced he would not seek another term.
Crowe says he was shocked by Roe’s decision to retire from Congress.
“I thought Phil would run again,” he said.
Now Crowe, who’s been in the Tennessee Senate for almost 30 years, says he’s not a definite “yes.” But he said, “I’m seriously considering it. Seriously considering it.”
“You’re not ready to say for sure that you’re running?” we asked
“I’m close. I’m close,” Crowe responded. “I need a couple of meetings with family. And then we’ll go from there. I’m energized. After having worked hard to keep Tennessee on top I’m ready to go to DC.”
Crowe, who is 72 years old, works on a contract basis with Ballad Health in hyperbaric medicine and wound care. He helped change state law to allow for the Ballad Health merger, a deal he calls controversial. But he said it was the request of leaders across his Senate district, and he believes it will help improve care long-term.
Crowe worked at ETSU for years, but said he lost his job at the university after refusing to support former Gov. Don Sundquist’s push for an income tax in Tennessee.
“When I did that, he made sure that I wasn’t working in the university anymore. And that’s when I went into my health care work,” Crowe said.
Crowe says if he runs for Congress, he would campaign while finishing this year in the state Senate.
“I think I could do it. I look forward to it. I really do.”
And if he wins the race, Crowe says President Donald Trump will have his support in the House if the Trump wins a second term.
“My constituents feel he is on track, and I’d be proud to stand with him,” Crowe said.
If Crowe wins the Republican nomination in August and then Congressional race in November, the Washington County Tennessee Commission would have to appoint an interim senator until a special election could be held.