Kingsport Chamber roundtable with GOP gubernatorial candidate Diane Black

Hank Hayes • Feb 20, 2018 at 7:30 PM

KINGSPORT – Tennessee GOP gubernatorial candidate Diane Black got straight to the point Tuesday about her values and the values of Tennesseans: “God is God. Life is life. Truth is truth.”

That’s what she said during a Kingsport Chamber of Commerce business roundtable to introduce her candidacy to a room filled with business leaders and elected officials.

She’s competing in the August GOP Primary against Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd, House Speaker Beth Harwell and Williamson County businessman Bill Lee.

Introducing Black at the event was former Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, a Blountville Republican who has endorsed her. Ramsey recalled a story about when he was trying to convince her to run for the state Senate.

“She requested some polling,” Ramsey said. “It came back and lordy mercy it was terrible for Diane. The incumbent had 65 percent approval ratings and a 63 percent (favoring re-election). Diane comes in … ‘Did you get the polling today? How was it?’ (I said) ‘not bad.’ If Ron Ramsey tells you ‘not bad,’ you might want to dig a little deeper … obviously, she won.”

Black, now a congressman representing Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District, chairs the House Budget Committee and helped pass a continuing budget resolution that teed up tax reform.

“I worked very closely with the president (Trump) on that,” she told the chamber group. “We’re very proud this is really going to change the economy. We’re already seeing wages go up.”

Black said one reason she’s running for governor is to grow the state’s economy.

“In Middle Tennessee, we are doing really well, there are cranes everywhere.” she explained. “ … As I travel throughout this state, 60 percent of our state is rural … the rural areas aren’t doing as well … they are not getting the kind of support I think they need to get … most of the time I hear ‘we need good transportation and we need broadband.’”

Black answered these questions during the roundtable discussion:

What are the differences between you and the other gubernatorial candidates?

“When I get on the stage with the other opponents, I do want to be able to differentiate myself,” she responded. “The word that keeps coming to me is uniquely qualified. I’m not saying that to be haughty. I do think I’m uniquely qualified. I do have the background legislatively, but I’m also a nurse … in addition to that, I’m a business person.”

What’s your position on legislation to limit opioid prescriptions?

“When you have a chronic condition and let’s say it’s somebody who’s dying of cancer, you cannot get someone to have to go back to the pharmacy every seven days to refill that prescription,” Black pointed out. “ … For someone who’s just had a tooth pulled, we can limit something like that … I want to work with the physicians. I’m not going to put something out there and say ‘Here is what we’re absolutely going to do before I listen to you … let’s find something that’s reasonable … what I want to take care of are the bad actors, like the pill mills.”

What’s your view of gun control in light of the Florida school shooting?

“If you look at these school shootings, whether it was Columbine a number of years ago or Sandy Hook … you see that besides a weapon being used … you see something else that’s very common, and that’s mental illness,” Black said. “ … It’s sticky because there are privacy concerns … we have to find a way where we can bridge these privacy concerns with public safety.”