Growing division over Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's candidacy is adding political fuel to a hot partisan race in East Tennessee.
Democrat and former State Rep. Gloria Johnson and current Republican State Rep. Eddie Smith are facing off for the seat in Knoxville's State House District 13.
Johnson held a press conference Tuesday calling on Smith to denounce Trump's lewd comments against women that he made in a 2005 recording. Trump has referred to the comments as "locker room talk."
"I denounce Donald Trump's lewd comments about women and call on Eddie Smith to follow Governor Haslam and my lead to do the same," Johnson said.
Further, Johnson said it was not enough for Smith to only denounce Trump's comments. She said she would like to hear that he is not voting for Trump either.
"Are you going to vote for someone who makes the kind of statements that Donald Trump has made?" Johnson said.
In a statement, Smith said, "Like many voters, I remain an undecided voter. Mr. Trump's temperament and continued egregious statements over the last fifteen months are exactly why I have not endorsed him, and Secretary Clinton's continued dishonesty should concern everyone as we head into Election Day. Hillary Clinton's failed liberal policies of the past would do irreparable harm to our nation and to our state. I'm focused on making this election, for House District 13, about the issues that matter to Knox County residents, not about politicians in Washington and failed leaders."
At an event Tuesday night supporting longtime U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan, WBIR 10News asked several East Tennessee Republican lawmakers for comment, but many declined to go on camera. Some promised off camera to vote for Trump. Others pledged to support his running mate.
Duncan told WBIR 10News on Monday that Trump's comments were "terrible." He also said he is sticking with the GOP nominee.
(© 2017 WBIR)