Battlefield Tennessee Series: Steve Holder (Independent) running for TN 1

Steve Holder, an Independent, is a colorful candidate, often seen in patriotic or faux tuxedo shirts, but he’s seriously tired of Republicans being in charge of the 1st Congressional District of Tennessee. He chose a different path than we encourage here—Majority60 encourages (and occasionally endorses) Democratic candidates, but Holder’s antipathy toward the idea of Republicans getting another term in the 1st and his commitment to caucus with Democrats should he win and the fact that anyone with a “D” next to their name will struggle in a deep red district convinced me to hear him out and share it with readers.

Holder is difficult to nail down, he’s running as a pro-life, second amendment guy. But when pressed, Holder conceded, “Abortion is already legal as you know, and I do not plan on attempting to change that, but I do think it is important to put it on the record where I stand.” This is not a position completely foreign to the Democratic left. There have been several prominent Democrats; Senator Tim Kaine and President Barack Obama both made statements about being personally opposed to abortion while expressing an understanding that a person’s autonomy is non-negotiable. On guns, Holder is in line with Senator Bernie Sanders in expressing empathy toward rural America’s love of guns but said, “I have no problem with background checks.”

Holder comes from a working class background. He served in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division and later became a minister. Holding a variety of jobs growing up, he seemed especially proud of his service to a Christian 12 step program after struggling with alcohol and drugs in his younger years, “I was an alcoholic by the time I turned 18,” he explained. “I nearly killed myself with alcohol and drugs. I got into recovery when I was 28 years old, took my last drink at age 29, and now I have been clean and sober for over 35 years. I owe that to God, a wonderful 12 step program, and a few amazing people that were there for me.”

I asked Holder what issue was most important to him and he pointed to the scourge of human trafficking in Tennessee. In January TBI spokesperson Leslie Earhart was asked about the subject by ABC affiliate News Channel 2, “Sadly, all too often in Northeast Tennessee, human trafficking involves parents selling their child for sex in exchange for drugs or money,” Earhart was quoted saying. TBI told the news team that human trafficking had been reported in every county in Tennessee.

“We need to seek out these human trafficker menaces to society and lock them up and throw away the key.” Holder said. The trafficking problem in Tennessee can often get exploited for political gain in the current political climate to demonize minorities and immigrants and so Holder believes he could contribute to fighting the problem while keeping politicians like Marsha Blackburn and whoever wins the open senate seat in November accountable.

Asked about bringing jobs to the 1st district where it seems like the right answer would revolve around building the infrastructure and educating the workforce that would attract business and grow the local economy, Holder, like his Democratic rival, focuses on worker rights, “I believe everyone in America should be allowed to join a union, and every union has a right to exist.” Holder told me adding, “Republicans are historically anti-union and will do all they can to squash the unions and deprive the workers of all the rights they can.” Sounding very much like his Democratic opponent, Holder said, “I will work to get the minimum wage raised to $15 per hour for every worker in the 1st District. When I vote in Washington D.C. I will always vote in favor of the working class.”

Holder also confirmed his commitment to work toward a universal healthcare program, “We need to go to a single-payer system,” Holder said. “We can make that happen for all Americans, just as it is in other developed nations, and I will work hard to do exactly that. Lives would be saved.”

Steve Holder has abandoned the two-party system in his effort to win the congressional seat in his district. However, should he be fortunate enough to win he has stated unequivocally that he will increase the Democratic majority in the House. He is a done work with the non-profit, Sober Living Home, served in the US Army from 1972-1974 and holds a doctorate in ministry. He is facing 3 Democratic candidates (nominee to be chosen on March 3rd): Chris Rowe, Larry Smith and Blair Walsingham and Libertarian J.S. Moore.