Chattanooga Tea Party president and founder Mark West has endorsed Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-06) in her campaign for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018.
“I’m honored to endorse Diane Black for Governor. This election is a choice about the future of our state. Do we want strong leadership to make sure Tennessee is a beacon of conservative policies and traditional values? Or do we want to join other states in going the way of liberal bastions like California,” West said in a statement emailed to The Tennessee Star, adding:
Diane is a strong believer in the importance of protecting our God-given liberties. Protecting the rights of healthcare providers to keep their jobs when abortionists want to compel them to violate their consciences is just one example of her track record of fighting for us. In addition to the Conscience Protection Act, she’s a co-sponsor of Kate’s Law. When murderers are allowed to roam free among us and our government refuses to follow the Constitution we need a fighter.
Diane is fiscally conservative, socially conservative, a proponent of a strong National Defense and a bold Christian, who was willing to endorse the Nashville statement. She has been fighting in Washington to change the trajectory of our country, and I know she can do the same thing in our state. I am honored to endorse Diane Black and I know that with her as our next governor, we can build a stronger Tennessee together.”
West’s endorsement of Black may be a turning point in the gubernatorial campaign.
The Chattanooga Tea Party president and founder is one of the most well respected liberty movement/Tea Party leaders in the state, and his endorsement of Black represents a big step in her ability to reach out to grassroots conservatives who, to date, have coalesced almost exclusively around her gubernatorial rival, former State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet).
A successful businessman before he became involved in grassroots conservative politics, West’s support for Black may encourage other conservative activists to back the former nurse in her bid for the Governor’s mansion.
Beavers’ hold on the loyalties of Tennessee’s grassroots conservatives, however, may be hard to break.
Many question Black’s integrity and respect Beavers’ long and distinguished record of steadfast support for conservative causes.
In addition to the influential Tea Party leader’s support, Black published a slew of endorsements Tuesday in her bid for the Governor’s office by key local and grassroots leaders, as well as announced hundreds of statewide County Leadership Teams.
“I’m proud to have so many strong conservative, grassroots leaders on my team from all 95 counties,” Diane Black said in a statement.
“My focus, from day one of this campaign, has been on engaging with local officials and local communities, listening to them about the issues that they face every day. Our next Governor will be faced with significant challenges, but also presented with significant opportunities. I’m honored by the grassroots support in our state and look forward to having this team fighting side by side with me to protect our Tennessee values,” she added.
According to her statement Tuesday, her supporters include:
Over 100 former and current elected officials including city and county mayors, state legislators, sheriffs, district attorneys, county clerks, road supervisors, registers of deeds, school board members, TNGOP SEC members, and congressmen.
Over 100 former and current officers of Tennessee Federation of Republican Women, county Republican Parties, Tea Party Organizations and the Tennessee Republican Party including a former state party chairman.
364 former and current elected officials, business and community leaders, pastors, farmers, Republican Party and Tea Party officers and activists.
Representative Black is one of a total of eight candidates vying for the state’s top spot in the 2018 election. Republican candidates include former State Sen. Beavers, Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville), Williamson County businessman Bill Lee, Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd, and Johnson City realtor Kay White.
The two Democrats that have declared their candidacy are former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and State House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley).