Republican Announces for Tennessee Governor

By John Celock

The chairwoman of the U.S. House Budget Committee has announced her bid to be Tennessee’s next governor.

U.S. Rep. Diane Black released a video Wednesday kicking off her bid for the Republican nomination, entering what is shaping up to be a competitive field in next year’s election. Gov. Bill Haslam (R) is term-limited.

“In Tennessee we’re conservative and we do things the right way no matter what Hollywood or Washington thinks about. We believe in absolute truth,” Black said. “Right is right, wrong is wrong, truth is truth, God is God and a life is a life. And we don’t back down from anything. That’s exactly the kind of governor I will be.”

Black, the first woman to head the House Budget Committee, is seeking to be Tennessee’s first female governor. She touched on her credentials in the video, including her work in the state Legislature to stop tax hikes and enact pro-life laws. She also noted her service at the helm of the federal budget panel.

Black has indicated that she has no plans to step down from the budget committee chairmanship as she kicks off her gubernatorial bid. She took over the budget chairmanship in January succeeding Georgia Republican Tom Price, who stepped down to become secretary of Health and Human Services in the Trump Administration. Black is the third budget committee chair in a row to attempt to move on to higher office. Price’s predecessor as chairman is House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Black’s gubernatorial campaign comes as congressional leaders are working to finalize budget legislation for the coming year.

A Maryland native, Black is a registered nurse, which she touched on in the video, noting that she worked night shifts as a nurse while a single mother. She served six years in the state House of Representatives and six years in the state Senate before winning her congressional seat in 2010.

Black joins a growing GOP field that also includes state House Speaker Beth Harwell, sate Sen. Mae Beavers, former state Economic Development Commissioner Randy Boyd and businessman Bill Lee. Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and state House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh have entered the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Currently there are six female governors in the nation: Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D), Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D), New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R), Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R). Martinez and Fallin are both term-limited next year, while Brown, Reynolds and Raimondo have announced plans to seek reelection in 2018. Ivey, who succeeded to the governorship earlier this year, has not said if she will seek a full term next year.

“What do you think the number one job for our next governor should be?” Black said. “It’s simple, fight for what’s right.”