Tennessee State House District 13 candidates bicker over Trump’s comments

Democrat Gloria Johnson calls for Republican Rep. Eddie Smith to announce he isn't voting for Trump

Gloria Johnson (l) and Rep. Eddie Smith (r)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The presidential race is bleeding over into a race for Tennessee State House. District 13 Democratic candidate Gloria Johnson is calling on her Republican opponent Rep. Eddie Smith to denounce Donald Trump.

The move comes after Trump’s comments about women caught on a hot microphone in 2005 were released last week. In the tape, Trump brags about how his star power made it possible for him to kiss women or grab their genitals without their consent.

Previous story: Trump caught on video making lewd, crude remarks about women

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Johnson brought up the sexual harassment scandal involving expelled State Rep. Jeremy Durham, saying legislators were largely silent until forced to act.

“Again, my opponent has been silent. Silence is not acceptable in situations like this. My opponent’s silence indicates a lack of leadership and an inability to be part of the solution – to clean up Tennessee’s own sexual harassment scandals,” said Johnson.

Previous story: Tennessee lawmakers oust Rep. Jeremy Durham in 70-2 vote

In response, Smith issued a statement saying: “Donald Trump’s comments are repugnant and reprehensible. As a father, a husband, a Christian, and an American, my record is clear when it comes to respecting women, fighting for individual opportunity, and treating everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve. This issue once again showcases my opponent’s desire to focus on any issue other than those directly affecting the lives of residents in this district. This is yet another example of why the voters removed her from office two years ago, and why our campaign remains focused on House District 13 and continuing effective leadership in Nashville.”

Previous story: Gov. Haslam: Trump needs to step aside

Johnson says it’s not enough to speak against Trump’s statements. She says showing leadership would require Smith to say he’s not voting for Trump. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam called for Trump to step down from the presidential race over the weekend.

Meanwhile, the Republican party hit back at Johnson, pointing at passages from the “Issues” section of her website. The GOP says she plagiarized them from other Democrats’ campaigns. WATE 6 On Your Side found a sentence about education that matches a sentence on Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s site, but Johnson denied the claims.

“I’m sorry. There’s nothing to that whatsoever,” she said. “I haven’t read Elizabeth Warren in years.”

State Republicans raised similar concerns about the language on Johnson’s website in 2014.

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