KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knox County Democrats have selected Rick Staples as the new candidate for the District 15 State House race.
“Euphoric. It’s been a long week. It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Staples.
Joe Armstrong won the primary earlier this month, but a federal jury convicted him on a federal charge just a few days later, meaning he isn’t eligible to run. The party’s chairman said three people were interested in the nomination: Staples, Armstrong’s wife LeTonia, and former mayor and current City Council member Dan Brown.
Only Brown and Staples were nominated for a vote.
Fifteen members of the Knox County Democratic Party’s executive committee gathered to nominate Armstrong’s replacement, and they all live in the 15th district. The process began with voters having a chance to nominate a candidate, who then had the chance to speak for up to two minutes. The vote was then conducted by an open roll call. The candidate with the most votes would be selected. Rick Staples received 11 out of the 15 possible votes.
“That’s a huge vote of confidence. Huge vote of support that we can build off of,” said Staples.
Most constituents were happy with the end result.
“Joe Armstrong is a good guy, but I think Rick Staples is going to be a new mix and new younger fresh view,” said Anthony Brown.
It’s this change that is getting some Democratic voters excited.
“He relates so well to everybody in the community, outside the community,” said Jim Jennings.
Now. Staples will be going out into the community to campaign for the November election.
“New. Fresh. I work across any party line. I have the community first in my heart,” said Rick Staples.
Staples is taking the win with much respect for the man he is replacing, Joe Armstrong.
“Continue to pray for Joe Armstrong and his family this is a very difficult time for him. I have to create my own path, respect the good work he has done and build off of that,” said Staples.
Staples recently ran for Knox County Commission and is the vice president of 100 Black Men of Greater Knoxville. He now faces independent Pete Drew in the November election. There is no Republican on the ballot.
Previous story: Wife of Tenn. Rep. Joe Armstrong interested in husband’s seat