By Steve Hunley

Rene Hoyos has made the expected announcement she is running for Congress again in 2020.  Hoyos ran against Tim Burchett in 2018 and won a whopping 33% of the vote.  Now she’s off to the races once again and telling anybody who will listen she’s seen signs of a shift in the voting patterns of the Second Congressional district.  Incidentally, ours is the most Republican district in the nation as it has never elected a Democrat since the GOP has been on the ballot.  Still, Rene has high hopes and manages to keep a straight face when she tells local TV stations “Our district is changing.”  Hoyos claims she’s seen a move toward the Democrats in the last five elections.  Evidently Hoyos thinks if she keeps running for Congress she’ll finally get there about 2028.

Apparently Rene has never bothered to look at the election returns past the last five elections.  I asked our resident historian Ray Hill if any Democrats have run better races than Rene Hoyos.  The answer was, not surprisingly, yes.  Howard H. Baker, father of Senator Baker, was reelected in 1952 when Dwight D. Eisenhower was carrying Tennessee with 68% of the vote.  Baker’s Democratic opponent, Tally Livingston, won 29% of the vote, which is just four percentage points less than the percentage won by Hoyos against Burchett.

Congressman Baker died in 1963 and his widow, Irene, was elected in a special election that year.  Irene Baker won 55% of the vote against Squire Willard Yarborough, who also happened to be City Councilman Mark Campen’s grandfather.  Yarborough won 44% of the vote, which is eleven percentage points more than Hoyos won in 2018.  Yarborough tried again and was the Democratic nominee for Congress in 1864 when Lyndon Johnson was winning Tennessee against Barry Goldwater.  John J. Duncan, the GOP nominee, won 54% of the vote in Tennessee’s Second Congressional district while Yarborough won 45% of the vote, twelve percentage points better than the showing made by Rene Hoyos against Tim Burchett in 2018.

Duncan’s son, John J. “Jimmy” Duncan, Jr., ran to succeed his father in 1988, facing Democrat Dudley Taylor in a special and regular election.  Duncan with about 56% of the vote in both the special and regular election.  Dudley Taylor’s 44% of the vote was eleven percentage points better than that of Rene Hoyos.

When Hoyos brags she got more votes than any Democrat running in the Second Congressional district, that may well be true, but it is a bit misleading.  Mr. Hill told me the best showing made by any Democrat in recent times, relatively speaking, was that of John T. O’Connor, once mayor of Knoxville.  O’Connor was running against incumbent Republican congressman J. Will Taylor in 1936 during the Franklin Roosevelt landslide.  O’Connor lost to Taylor 38,991 – 40,595, a difference of 1604 votes out of 79,586 ballots cast.  O’Connor carried Knox County by 4,886 votes; Hoyos did not come close to carrying Knox County.  O’Connor carried at least one other county in the Second District and ran closely behind Taylor in several others.  Hoyos was obliterated in the outlying counties of the Second Congressional district.

The fact is Rene Hoyos didn’t run the best race by a Democrat in Tennessee’s Second Congressional district.  Hoyos claims she is against the “special interests” who “threaten our way of life”; I wonder what way of life she is speaking of in particular.  Hoyos is simply one more ultra-liberal in the mold of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  I very much doubt the people of the Second Congressional district want to add another member to The Squad.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Hoyos is another one of those Democrats appalled that Governor Bill Lee would call for a day of prayer and fasting by and for Tennesseans.

Another sign that Rene Hoyos is delusional is the fact Madeline Rogero is not running for Congress.  If there was a chance in the world the district were truly changing and a Democrat could be elected to Congress, you can be sure someone like Madeline Rogero or Gloria Johnson would be running hard.  Rene Hoyos isn’t a top tier candidate and if and when the demographics indicate a Democrat can be elected to Congress from our district, you can bet it won’t be Rene.  Odds are Tim Burchett will beat Rene Hoyos like a drum once again next year.  Twenty years from now, as many people will remember Rene Hoyos and her campaigns for Congress as they do that of Tally Livingston.