John Rose on Thursday touted his campaign’s first quarter of fundraising, noting that he has more than four times the resources of State Rep. Judd Matheny (R-Tullahoma), who is also vying for the Republican nomination for the 6th Congressional District seat.
A small business owner and farmer, Rose briefly served as Tennessee agriculture commissioner under former Republican Gov. Don Sundquist.
Rose has $468,029 cash on hand after expenditures totaling $74,421, according to his filing with the Federal Election Commission. More than $250,000 came from self-funding.
Rose’s campaign got a boost from Democratic contributors and a somewhat bigger one from members of the Haslam family.
Charles Robert Bone, a Nashville attorney, businessman and Democratic Party fundraiser, contributed $2,700. His wife, Sacha, contributed an additional $2,700. Nashville Democratic political strategist Dave Cooley contributed $500.
“You will not find two bigger Democrats in this state than Obama bundler Charles Bone and Bredesen ‘political enforcer’, Dave Cooley,” said one longtime GOP insider.
“What is perplexing is that Rose thought accepting these contributions from two notorious liberal Democrats would somehow help him with conservative Republicans. I predict his eagerness to ask Democrats for money will cause him major trouble among GOP primary voters,” the insider added.
Jimmy Haslam, brother of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and CEO of the Pilot Flying J truck stop chain, contributed $5,000 and his wife, Susan “Dee”, contributed an additional $5,000. His father, Jim Haslam and his wife, Natalie, also contributed a combined total of $10,000.
A Haslam family business, Pilot Flying J has been engulfed in a diesel fuel rebate fraud scheme, though Jimmy Haslam is not among company executives who have been indicted. With his wife, he owns the Cleveland Browns football team and in recent weeks has been criticized for supporting players taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem.
Rose paid a total of nearly $70,000 to Acquire Digital and Axiom Strategies for consulting and advertising, his campaign filing shows.
Axiom Strategies is owned by Jeff Roe, who worked recently for Republican establishment candidate Senator Luther Strange (R-AL). Strange was defeated last month in a Republican primary runoff for the Alabama U.S. Senate by conservative Judge Roy Moore.
Roe was Ted Cruz’s campaign manager during the 2016 presidential election cycle. He has also worked with Rick Perry and Mike Huckabee.
Rep. Matheny, who is favored among Tea Party conservatives, has $104,086 cash on hand.
Rose supported the state legislature raising the gas tax earlier this year, while Matheny did not. But the two candidates take similar positions on a number of other issues, including backing President Trump on the need for respect for the national anthem.
In a press release Thursday, Rose described himself as a “conservative Republican” who is a “staunch supporter of the 2nd amendment, and 100% pro-life.”
“The 6th district knows we need conservative leadership in Washington, D.C., and I am ready to be that leader,” Rose said. “We need more Tennessee in Washington and less Washington in Tennessee. The federal government has grown too large and it’s time we give more power back to the people.”
The 6th Congressional District seat is being vacated by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-06), who is running for the Republican nomination for governor.