Knoxville businessman Jason Emert announced Tuesday he will seek the Republican nomination to in House District 13, a seat now held by freshman Democratic Rep. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville.
From the News Sentinel:
Emert’s initial announcement of his campaign stated that he was an attorney, but a staff member called to clarify that Emert had graduated from the University of Miami Law School. The staffer said that Emert has not taken the Tennessee bar exam and asked that the reference to Emert being a lawyer be removed. (Note: The release is below.)
Emert said he believes he offers the people of the district representation that is more in-line with their views and values.
The businessma said the district doesn’t need a politician like Johnson who advocates for “liberal” special interests and agendas.
…The businessman said beating Johnson will require a well-funded, disciplined candidate. Emert said he already has $100,000 in donation pledges and he will campaign full-time beginning Tuesday.
When contacted in Nashville shortly before the General Assembly convened, Johnson said she enjoys the democratic process and encourages people to get involved.
A Knox County Schools teacher, Johnson said Republicans aren’t talking about job growth and said that while the rest of the nation is seeing less unemployment, Tennessee is seeing more.
The representative said her priorities in the 108th General Session will be to bring jobs to East Tennessee, opposing school vouchers and expanding healthcare.
“I don’t think it is real liberal to say we need to put people back to work, we have to keep public education dollars in public education and we need to get folks in East Tennessee the healthcare they need,” she said.
Note: This updates an earlier post, which contained only the Emert announcement news release as originally sent. It’s below.
News release from Jason Emert campaign
Knoxville, Tenn. — Jason Emert (pronounced: EM-urt), a Knoxville area attorney and small businessman, announced today that he will seek to replace Democratic incumbent Gloria Johnson as Tennessee’s 13th District Representative.
“After careful reflection and prayer, I have decided that the best way I can serve my community at this time is to replace Gloria Johnson as the 13th District’s representative in the Tennessee General Assembly,” said Emert. “I believe that I can offer the people of my district representation that is more in-line with their views and values. Our district needs a strong voice in Nashville that has their genuine interests at heart. We do not deserve a politician who is using her position to stand tall for liberal special interests, agendas, and legislation.”
Johnson faces her first attempt at re-election after narrowly beating the Republican nominee by just 288 votes two years ago. The 13th District that Johnson now represents is decidedly Republican. In 2012, the district’s voters supported Republican Congressman Jimmy Duncan for a 2-to-1 win over Democratic candidate Troy Goodale, and propelled Mitt Romney to a 4-point victory over Barack Obama.
Many observers note that Johnson’s 2012 victory was largely driven by the non-Democratic vote being split between the weakly funded and poorly organized Republican nominee and another Republican appearing on the ballot as an independent.
Johnson failed to earn the support of the majority of the voters in 2012, scoring only 48%.
Quickly after being elected, Johnson gained the reputation of being one of the most liberal members of the General Assembly, focusing on legislation that is drafted by liberal organizations and lobbyists, while publicly positioning herself as one of the most devoted supporters of Obamacare.
“While the 13th district may not be a conservative haven, it is certainly not as liberal as Representative Johnson’s record would indicate,” said Emert. “Ms. Johnson believes that her election as our representative gave her unconditional authority to push legislation influenced only by her own liberal ideology. The people of this district will be shocked by what Representative Johnson has said and done on their behalf in Nashville. I know I certainly was.”
“Gloria Johnson’s crusade to force New York-style liberalism on Tennessee is among the reasons I have decided to run,” remarked Emert.
“The truth is that Gloria Johnson was in the right place at the right time in 2012, allowing her to win election to the General Assembly,” said Emert. “But, she is far more formidable now than she was two years ago. Johnson’s re-election campaign will be buoyed by national, state, and local Democratic parties, as well as liberal organizations across the nation, who all believe that Johnson is an up-and-coming liberal star.”
“I agree – Gloria Johnson is a liberal star and represents few, if any, of the values and views held by the people of Tennessee’s 13th district,” continued Emert.
“Beating Gloria Johnson will require a well-funded, disciplined candidate,” commented Emert. “I believe that I am that person. As of this morning, I have more than $100,000 in donation pledges. My campaign will likely raise more money in the next 45 days than Johnson banked in all of last year. Furthermore, I am committing myself to campaigning full-time starting today.”
“It’s time for our representatives to live up to their campaign promises, and work to bring jobs to Knox County,” concluded Emert. “It’s our duty to enact real change that helps our constituent’s lives, not act as a mouthpiece for out-of-state liberal groups and progressively liberal dreams.”
Emert’s strong fundraising performance adds significant pressure to Johnson as she is prohibited from raising money for her re-election campaign while the Tennessee Legislature is in session. The legislature’s session began today at 1:00pm EST / 12:00pm CST.
About Jason Emert
Jason Emert is an attorney and health care professional from Knoxville, TN. He is currently employed as the Vice President of Business Development and Marketing at First Choice Medical. After receiving a Bachelor of Science from Southern Illinois University, a MBA from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, and a J.D. From the University of Miami (FL), Jason joined the family business seeking emerging business opportunities for medical device manufacturers and hospitals.
Jason is a fourth-generation East Tennessean whose family roots can be traced back to pre-Revolutionary Tennessee. Jason has been actively involved in a multitude of community organizations in Knox County since graduating from Farragut High School. His volunteer service includes work with United Way of Greater Knoxville, East Tennessee Historical Society, and Special Olympics.