BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The Nov. 6 local, state and federal elections are now only a month away, campaigns are in full swing, and the Greene County Republican Party celebrated the excitement of a big election year Monday evening with the grand opening of the party's local campaign headquarters.
The headquarters is located in the old Gateway Ford building on Tusculum Boulevard.
Nearly 100 Republican officials and citizens packed into the former automobile showroom for barbecue and an auction lead by County Mayor Alan Broyles.
The festivities were followed by brief addresses by, or introductions of, the local GOP candidates for office, including Circuit Court Clerk Pam Venerable, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, of Johnson City, and State Rep. David Hawk, R-5th, of Greeneville.
Also present on Monday was Romesa Faison, mother of state Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-11th, of Cosby, who spoke on her son's behalf since she said he was in Nashville for an interview with USA Today.
Romesa Faison thanked Greene County for supporting her son and reminded the crowd of his conservative political stance.
Roe had the crowd roaring in approval when he introduced himself as, "Phil Roe, fierce opponent to Barack Obama."
In fact, Roe did not make any campaign statements for himself, but instead praised the potential the county has in the man he referred to as "President Romney," referring to presidential hopeful and Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
The congressman noted the unemployment rates for the past four years, the increasing price of milk, the high price of gas, and the trillions of dollars added to the national debt since President Obama took office in January 2009.
"I don't think this country can get through another four years [of Obama's presidency]," he said.
Roe added that he plans to "put the pedal to the metal" and join Romney's campaign efforts in surrounding states.
He said he is confident that Tennessee will remain a "red" state (indicating a clear Republican majority in the presidential election), calling it "nonsense" to hear some news media refer to it as a "pink" state.
Finally, he concluded his speech in much the same way Rep. David Hawk began his, by pointing to the youngest members of the audience as the future and the reason for their work in politics.
Hawk, R-5th, of Greeneville, presented cards picturing him with his own two daughters.
He pointed to his work with Gov. Bill Haslam in signing into law on the steps of the Greene County Courthouse a comprehensive anti-methamphetamine bill and pledged to continue this work.
"It's a constant battle to try to protect our family and our family members from the scourge that drugs are," he said.
He also pledged to make Tennessee a welcoming environment to draw in more businesses.
"I know how to work hard, and I know how to get the job done in Nashville," he said.
Hawk concluded his speech by once again making reference to his private nature and how difficult the last several months have been.
These comments were in reference to charges Hawk is currently facing of domestic assault in relation to an incident that occurred in March.
The charges were placed after his wife, Crystal Hawk, said he struck her in the face with his hand in an altercation at their home, knocking her to the floor.
Hawk has strongly denied the charge. He pleaded not guilty in March, and maintains his innocence.
The charge was bound over to a grand jury at a preliminary hearing last month in Greene County General Sessions Court when specially-appointed Judge James Nidiffer, of Washington County, found that evidence was sufficient to forward the case to a grand jury for consideration.
Crystal Hawk resigned in August as president of the Greene County Republican Women's Club and was not present on Monday evening.
Her resignation came after a federal judge ruled July 19 in a civil lawsuit against her brought by J. Roy Klumb, her former husband, that she had violated federal and state wiretapping laws by installing spyware on his computers without his consent, in order to intercept his e-mails.
The judge also found that she had falsified a prenuptial agreement with Klumb, and awarded Klumb statutory and punitive damages, as well as his legal costs.
Thomas C. Jessee, Crystal Hawk's attorney, acting on her behalf, appealed the ruling in August and requested a new trial.
On Monday, David Hawk noted what he called "nasty phone calls" coming as push polls and what he said have been references to him as a "wife beater" or a "drunk."
"[That's] from a Democratic opponent who said he was going to run a very clean campaign," Hawk said.
In addition, Hawk indicated that Yokley had put out a mailer accusing Hawk of negative campaigning in response to a mailer by the Tennessee Republican Party that said Yokley had voted to give public benefits to illegal immigrants.
Hawk said he was not even aware of the mailers, but that they had simply told the truth about Democrat opponent Yokley's voting record.
"It's totally untrue," Yokley said of his having anything to do with negative phone calls. "Any call that people have called for me is just basically to talk about us.
"We don't talk about him. I'm running my campaign to promote myself to go work for the people of this community."
Yokley also addressed the mailers that have been distributed in the community.
"I've not seen the mailer that he's talking about," Yokley said. "The only mailer that was done for me by the [Tennessee Democrat Party] was a positive mailer in reference to me or my candidacy.
"It had nothing to do with him. The push poll that was done a few weeks back was a push poll that was done for him and his side. It wasn't done for me."
"My belief is that it takes character for the candidates on both sides to have the willpower to control their parties and to not cop out and say that they don't have anything to do with it," Yokley continued.
"Because we can make an impact if we've got the ability and the character to stop some of this negative publicity.
"Mainly, I want to stress that my campaign is positive. It has been and will be. Rep. Hawk's support group has mailed the only negative flyer I know of."
Yokley said this flyer was "totally distorted."
"I feel that the only way they think they can do any good is to attack my character and me and the votes that I have made. I can assure the people of this community that I have their interest at heart on any vote that I ever vote."
Monday's meeting concluded with Chairman Louis Ricker telling those present, "The primaries are over. Vote Republican. And I mean it -- from the president on down."