Dear Tennessee Star,
With Dr. Mark Green’s nomination to be the next Secretary of the Army it has left many in the state desperately trying to find a true conservative candidate they can support in next years gubernatorial race. There is one person that all conservatives can support, that person is Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, if he decides to throw his hat in the race.
● Why Burchett?
As mayor he’s proven himself to be a fiscal conservative. Burchett isn’t afraid to stand up to anyone in his fight for limited government, even special interest groups that are influential at the local level. During one of his ‘budget fights’ with the schools he had this to say, “I want to very respectfully say that it is easy to claim that more money will solve our problems, but we need only to look to Washington, D.C., though, to see that this is simply not true.”
When the big government folks on the School Board wanted more money which would have resulted in a tax increase he pledged to veto any measure to raise taxes. Gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd even testified before the Knox County Commission in support of the massive school board increase. Long story short, he lost and Mayor Burchett won the fight.
Knox County under his tenure has annually paid at least 20 million to bring down the debt.
Governor Haslam and members of the General Assembly could learn a lot from Mayor Burchett when it comes to solving problems without raising taxes. Knox County under Burchett paid for a new school with cash without raising taxes at all. This is an unheard of accomplishment.
● Why would he win?
Simply put, the grassroots would support him. He has the capacity to build a coalition of different groups across the state with every age group.
Luke Elliot, a Nashville native, is the President of the College Republicans at the University of Tennessee and the Treasure for the Tennessee College Republicans and former campaign manager for Ron McDow has some strong thoughts on Burchett running for governor:
Mayor Burchett would fill a large void in the upcoming gubernatorial race with his true conservative values and positive vision for the state. He has been an effective mayor and I believe he would do well with young people. Take one look at his social media, and you will see that Burchett can connect with people from all different walks of life. He is incredibly active in his community and I seriously encourage him to run.
“A lot of Republicans run for office claiming to be conservative, but once elected legislate like a liberal,” Steve Osborn, Chair of the Sevier County Tea Party says.
“Tim has proven time and again that he is true to his conservative principles. I think that, as governor, Tim Burchett will look to cut spending, and will not consider anything that would raise taxes on Tennesseans,” Osborn adds.
The Chair of the Chattanooga Tea Party has this to say about Mayor Burchett jumping in the race:
Tennessee boasts a Republican majority but its Republican Governor has too often pushed programs that are at odds with conservative values. So with the race for Governor beginning to heat up in Tennessee, conservatives are longing to unite behind a singular conservative candidate. And now that Senator Mark Green appears headed to Washington, Knoxville Mayor Tim Burchett could just be that candidate, whose track record affirms his conservative bona fides. But at the end of the day, if more than one conservative enters the gubernatorial race, it will undoubtedly result in another eight years of Haslam-style Republicanism, which will simply mean a wasted Republican majority, and conservatives will lose again.
Red Nation Rising Tennessee State Director Grace King is already on board with Burchett:
Burchett is a man whose brand of conservatism pays the bill without repeated trips into citizen’s pockets. He’s the guy that can be found down on MainStreet with regular citizens. Our state needs that. That makes Burchett the one candidate that every conservative can rally behind!
This year he has been making the rounds to different groups in the state. In January, he spoke to the Chattanooga Tea Party and in February he spoke Sevier County Tea Party. Burchett is expected to speak at the Tennessee Republican Assembly meeting on May 13th.
There is no doubt that money is a huge factor in a state ride race. Joe Carr is right when he said, “A statewide race is an auction not an election,” when you have candidates like billionaire Randy Boyd and Congresswoman Diane Black. However, with the grassroots support behind Burchett, he could win with just a small percentage of what the others spend.
Another obstacle is the fact he’s from Knox County. Why is this a problem? Folks in Middle and West Tennessee have a very sour taste with seven years of Knoxville native Governor Haslam along with Senator Alexander being from East Tennessee. This would be easy to overcome, because when you meet Burchett you know he’s nothing like those two. Also, Senator Alexander ran a poll in 2014 with him and Mayor Burchett so I would easily say Alexander does not want Burchett in a higher office.
As for Haslam, well that’s very easy considering that Mayor Burchett and Governor Haslam have had their own disputes over the years. One instance was last year over the governor refusing to help the growing problem of the mentally ill in Knox County. Burchett had this to say about Haslam:
They pulled the rug out from under us. I don’t like it when they start explaining that they didn’t get as much money as they expected, but I see all these little projects getting funded. “I spent 16 years in the Legislature, was on the Senate Finance Committee and chaired the Budget Subcommittee. I know the system and I don’t like hearing that crap. I know that taking care of the mentally ill’s not sexy like that miserable TV show – which has been cancelled, thank goodness – but when they talk about return on investment, I say, ‘What about investing in somebody not going to jail when what they need is treatment?’
Burchett seems hesitant to run if you look at his Twitter account, but it’s clear that he has both the principled conservative positions along with the grassroots support that would make him a very serious contender to lead our state. If there’s one thing I know about Burchett it’s that he’s a statesman and will step up if he believes his state needs him.