"She asked me to do that," Ramsey, a Blountville Republican, said in a phone interview. "I've known Diane for almost 20 years. ... I've always admired her, her tenacity, her backbone, her conservative philosophy. I knew her in the (state) House. She was one of those in 2002, when the leader wouldn't do it, who ran against (former state House Speaker) Jimmy Naifeh. She lost of course, but it was symbolic. In 2004, I talked her into running for the (state) Senate."
Black, a Gallatin Republican, won the state Senate seat and helped give Republicans their first majority in the state Senate. She entered the gubernatorial race in early August.
In that state Senate race, Ramsey said he and former Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Bob Davis gave Black misleading polling information.
"We didn't really lie to her," Ramsey recalled. "We said, 'How does the polling look?' I said, 'Not bad.' I didn't want her to run for the U.S. House in 2010. She was (state Senate) caucus chairman. ... She led the fight against the income tax (in 2002) when she was in the (state) House."
Black, Ramsey pointed out, also carried a constitutional amendment in the state Senate that did not secure or protect a right to an abortion in the state.
Ramsey agreed Black's opponents may very well attempt to paint her as a member of a dysfunctional Republican majority Congress.
"I would think that is the case. She's been in Washington now for seven years (Black chairs the House Budget Committee)," Ramsey noted. "I think she will turn that around. She is the first female budget chair, and they've actually moved a budget out of their committee for the first time in a long time. She's got something done there. ... I think she will be able to defend against that all day long."
Ramsey, who ran for governor in 2010 and lost in the Republican primary to now-Gov. Bill Haslam, said he did not consider running for governor in 2018 after retiring from the legislature last year.
"I liked the experience (of running for governor), but I would never do it again," Ramsey stressed. "I am friends with everybody in the field. ... I didn't have to think about it very long. Diane is the one who's going to win the race, and she will make an excellent governor."
Former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, who represented the West Tennessee 8th Congressional District from 2011-2017, is the other campaign co-chair.
“I am honored to have the support of conservative leaders who fight back, and that's exactly the kind of leaders Stephen Fincher and Ron Ramsey have always been,” Black said of her co-chairs. “They put conservative principles to work and never backed down when those principles were challenged. I look forward to working with them to reform our schools, stand strong for tough borders and lower taxes. We are putting together a strong team from the suburbs to the small towns to the rural counties and we are going to win this race."
The other major gubernatorial candidates in the 2018 GOP primary are state House Speaker Beth Harwell, state Sen. Mae Beavers, Knoxville businessman and former state Economic Development Commissioner Randy Boyd and Williamson County businessman Bill Lee.