House Budget Committee chair is now the third woman vying for her state’s top job
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
NASHVILLE (CFP) — U.S. Rep. Diane Black will give up the chairmanship of the powerful House Budget Committee to make a run for Tennessee’s open governorship in 2018.
In an announcement video posted August 2, Black burnished her conservative bona fides as she prepares to battle two other Republican women also vying to be the first female governor in state history.
“In Tennessee, we’re conservative, and we do things the right way, no matter what Hollywood or Washington thinks about it,” Black said. “We believe in absolute truths — 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 any of it.”
And although, as a committee chairman, Black is part of the House GOP leadership team, she also touted her independence, insisting that “I wasn’t afraid to stand up to the weak-kneed people in my own party when I had to.”
“I believe in secure borders and tough choices in cutting spending and beating the liberals instead of caving in to them.”
Black, 66, who worked as a nurse before getting involved in politics, served in both houses of the Tennessee legislature before winning her seat in Congress, representing the Volunteer State’s 6th District. She became chair of the budget committee earlier this year when former chair Tom Price left to join President Trump’s Cabinet.
Her decision to run for governor opens up what is likely to be a lively Republican primary in the 6th District, which stretches from Nashville’s eastern suburbs across a swath of north-central Tennessee. The district is heavily Republican, making a Democratic pickup of the open seat unlikely.
The governorship is open in 2018 because incumbent Republican Governor Bill Haslam is term-limited.
For the last 220 years, every Tennessee governor has been a man. But Black is now the third prominent Republican woman in the governor’s race, joining State Senator Mae Beavers from Mt. Juliet, who has been in the Senate since 2002, and State House Speaker Beth Harwell from Nashville, who in 2011 became the first female House speaker in state history.
Two businessmen are also in the GOP race: Randy Boyd from Knoxville, who owns two minor league baseball teams and served as an adviser to Haslam, and Bill Lee, a Franklin rancher who owns a home services company.
On the Democratic race, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean is running and may face State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley, who is considering a run.
While Tennessee has trended Republican in recent presidential elections and Republicans dominate the state’s congressional delegation, neither party has been able to win the governorship for more than two terms in a row since Democrats did so in 1966.