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Democratic candidates visit Town of Unicoi

U.S. Senate hopeful Marquita Bradshaw answers questions from Unicoi County citizens during an event held at the Doug Hopson Pavilion in Unicoi on Friday, Sept. 25. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

By Richard Rourk

U.S. Senate candidate Marquita Bradshaw and Tennessee First District Congressional Representative candidate Blair Walsingham made a stop in the Town of Unicoi on Friday, Sept. 25.

During the event, the candidates gave the crowd a brief introduction of what causes they champion and fielded questions from the crowd. Bradshaw’s message is one that cries out for unity.

“If elected I would represent all of the people of Tennessee,” Bradshaw said. “It’s important that every voice is heard.”

According to Bradshaw, being the underdog is nothing new to her.

“When I filed to run, I had $2.02 in my personal checking account,” Bradshaw said. “I knew there were other hardworking families across Tennessee that struggled more than the ultra rich that control the process. Even though I only raised $27,000 in the primary, I knew it was worth more than that. It was the dollars of hardworking families from all over the state. These families invested in a single mother on a working family income of less than $15 an hour to run for Senate.”

Walsingham, an Air Force veteran, explained the need for good-paying jobs and quality daycare in East Tennessee.

“There are good-paying jobs with security out there,” Walsingham said. “Businesses are expanding. Nissan just expanded in our state, and we have the workforce to cater to these careers. I would work to secure these jobs to come to Northeast Tennessee. Along with quality  jobs and housing, there is a dire need for daycare for the workforce.”

According to Walsingham, events like Friday’s are crucial for representatives.

“It’s important that we have discussions like these so we can remember what we are fighting for,” Walsingham said. “Grassroots meetings like these are important because the job of a representative is to know what the people need and what they want and you can’t know this without talking to the people.”

Walsingham sees unity in today’s divisive politics.

“We all want the same things,” Walsingham said. “We want to raise families. We want to be happy. We want to be healthy. We want a roof over our heads. Maybe take a vacation with our families and friends. The divisive rhetoric is false. We have far more in common than we have been led to believe. I am going to fight for everyone in our district – not one party or the other.”

Bradshaw will face Republican nominee Bill Hagerty to represent Tennessee in the U.S. Senate to replace retiring Senator Lamar Alexander. Walsingham is facing Republican nominee Diane Harshbarger and Steve Holder for retiring Congressman Phil Roe’s seat on Nov. 3.

If elected, both Bradshaw and Walsingham will make history. Bradshaw would be the first African American woman elected to a statewide office in the state of Tennessee and Walsingham would be the first ever female full time representative elected for the 1st District Congressional seat repressing Northeast Tennessee in Washington D.C.

For more information on Bradshaw, visit For more information on Walsingham, visit