Growing division over Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's candidacy is adding political fuel to a hot partisan race in East Tennessee.
Democrat and former State Rep. Gloria Johnson and
current Republican State Rep. Eddie Smith are facing off for the seat in
Knoxville's State House District 13.
Johnson held a press
conference Tuesday calling on Smith to denounce Trump's lewd comments
against women that he made in a 2005 recording. Trump has referred to
the comments as "locker room talk."
"I denounce Donald Trump's lewd comments about women and call on Eddie Smith to follow Governor Haslam and my lead to do the same," Johnson said.
Johnson said it was not enough for Smith to only denounce Trump's
comments. She said she would like to hear that he is not voting for
"Are you going to vote for someone who makes the kind of statements that Donald Trump has made?" Johnson said.
a statement, Smith said, "Like many voters, I remain an undecided
voter. Mr. Trump's temperament and continued egregious statements over
the last fifteen months are exactly why I have not endorsed him, and
Secretary Clinton's continued dishonesty should concern everyone as we
head into Election Day. Hillary Clinton's failed liberal policies of the
past would do irreparable harm to our nation and to our state. I'm
focused on making this election, for House District 13, about the issues
that matter to Knox County residents, not about politicians in
Washington and failed leaders."
At an event Tuesday night
supporting longtime U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan, WBIR 10News asked several
East Tennessee Republican lawmakers for comment, but many declined to go
on camera. Some promised off camera to vote for Trump. Others pledged
to support his running mate.
Duncan told WBIR 10News on Monday that Trump's comments were "terrible." He also said he is sticking with the GOP nominee.