Friday, September 29, 2017

Gubernatorial Candidate Diane Black Meets, Greets Republicans in Memphis

6th District Congresswoman, regarded by some as possible frontrunner in Governor's race, is breakfast speaker at Owen Brennan’s Restaurant, stresses theme of localism.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 3:44 PM

click to enlarge Rep. Black waits for chance to speak to GOP breakfasters as John Ryder introduces her. - JB
  • JB
  • Rep. Black waits for chance to speak to GOP breakfasters as John Ryder introduces her.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Diane Black, the U.S. Representative from Tennessee’s 6th congressional district (suburban Nashville and parts east of the state capital), was in Memphis this morning, speaking to a crowd of some 50 to 75 people, including numerous mainstream Republicans, at a meet-and-greet breakfast at Owen Brennan's Restaurant

On the basis of her current political position, personal wealth, and the kind of support that ensures you can raise significant money, many observers believe she’s the front-runner in the GOP primary field, though, in an interview before she addressed the breakfast group, Black professed an appropriate humility on the point, saying, “I don’t ever want to think of myself that way.”.

She was introduced by John Ryder, the longtime GOP national committeeman and former general counsel for the Republican National Committee, who said that Black was ““one of the smartest, toughest, solid conservative office-holders I have ever known, and I’m proud to support her for Governor.”

Black spoke at some length, beginning with a self-introduction containing details of a modest upbringing in Maryland, in a “good Christian home” with hard-working parents who had to make do with grade-school educations but who have survived, at age 92 each, to see their daughter on the cusp of her latest political milestone.

The congresswoman earned a nursing degree and came to the Nashville area 32 years ago with her husband, a toxicologist. As she noted, she has served, sequentially, six years in the Tennessee House, six years in the state Senate, and seven years in the Congress.



Black stressed the importance of “values” and suggested that two of her opponents, unnamed, had “picked up on” her emphasis on the theme. Although she maintained that Tennessee was “in good shape” overall, she thought it could still do better (noting that the state possessed 10 of the country’s most poverty-stricken counties) and should aspire to a place “in the Top Ten of states where people want to come.”

Apropos the state’s need to attract sources of economic development, Black said she made it a point when traveling in-state to catch broadcasts of the local news, and when she spoke of watching an hour’s worth of Memphis news on TV, her audience groaned sympathetically with her pained expression —the implication being that what she’d seen had been heavily salted with crime news, although she went on to mention an “uplifting” item about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “Those are the kinds of things I want to hear,” she said.

On health care in general , she said she thought Tennessee should think “out of the box” and proclaimed her view that the state’s Medicaid system, TennCare, had “decimated the public health system” by undermining local health departments.

Black made much of her belief in localism and stated that as the focus of her current statewide tour.. “I want to make sure I hear what needs to be done. I think local is the best that you can get. I’m not going to come in and tell locals what to do — as long as it’s legal and moral.

Asked by Germantown School Board member Amy Eoff about what Eoff saw as an ongoing “politicization of education” by both federal and state governments, Black seemed to concur. “I want schools to be local, to do what they need to do within their community,” she said. Vouchers might work in one place but not another. Ditto with charter schools. “ I don’t like to pigeonhole any particular area. Is that the thing that works for that particular area? What I don’t want to do is shove it down anybody’s throat and say that’s what you’ve got to do.”

Empathy with local concerns was something of a leitmotif in Black’s remarks. She embraced attendees’ expressed disappointment about delays in completing Interstate 69 and developing the West Tennessee megasite, as well as a sense that the state is defaulting on its funding obligations under the Basic Education Plan (BEP).

Black said she would be unable to attend a gubernatorial forum scheduled for Saturday evening at the Germantown home of John Williams under the auspices of the Shelby County Republican Women.


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