On Tuesday, we dished out last year’s “bad” awards with our “Worst of the Worst for 2017.”
Today, we hand out the “good” stuff, with our “Best of the Best for 2017.”
“The envelope please…”
COMEBACK KID. Congresswoman Diane Black caused many political pros to question her decision to accept the Budget Committee Chair while prepping a run for Governor, knowing that getting anything done would be a heavy lift. Yet, she dodged most of the landmines and when the Trump tax cuts passed she was standing right next to the President accepting accolades in word and tweet for a job well done. Look to see those Trump comments in commercials this year as she works to “out Trump” her opponents. As she and Randy Boyd start spending their respective personal fortunes on media in the coming weeks, the noise will drown out the pack and one of the two will emerge as the frontrunner. Thanks to Trump, who will be in Tennessee next week, Diane may have the slight edge at this point.
BIGGEST SURPRISE. When Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett entered the race to succeed longtime Congressman Jimmy Duncan in the 2d District the biggest question mark was whether he could raise the money to run a legitimate race. Burchett had the largest base of potential support with his Knox County foundation and his populist ap-peal is unquestionable. But would he actually raise the money needed to win? His first report of $140,000 seemed to answer the question, particularly since so many of his donors still had “room” to max out and as he had not even received donations from so many of the “usual suspects.” Jimmy Matlock can still raise and self-fund enough to make the race competitive, but if Burchett’s fourth quarter haul (which will be reported in the next few weeks) is in line with or exceeds the last report, he deserves the award for showing unexpected clout in the fundraising arena — which makes him a strong front runner to win in August.
DAVID BEATS GOLIATH…AGAIN. The Tennessee Star is not aware of any instance where a medical doctor has been stripped of their Medicare reimbursement privileges and then had them re-instated without going through a several year bureaucratic administrative judicial nightmare — until Dr. Bryan Merrick of McKenzie, Tennessee successfully fought back and won earlier this year. Dr. Merrick, with the assistance of former Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Roy Herron and McKenzie, Tennessee Mayor Jill Holland made the case to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and in the Age of Trump the bureaucrats actually listened and overturned their decision. They later reinstated several other doctors who had also wrongfully been severely punished for minor errors.
Merrick, Herron, and Holland deserve the David Beats Goliath award for 2017, with an assist to The Tennessee Star, which brought the issue to light, and two others, Senator Lamar Alexander and Dr. George Flinn, who made the case that was heard by the right people to insure that justice was actually done. Sometimes, the Big Bureaucracy can be defeated…even without a handful of stones and a sling.
MOST LIKELY TO EXCEED EXPECTATIONS. In the Age of Trump it is entirely appropriate for The Tennessee Star to present itself with an award. Starting from scratch just 10 months ago few expected the new, online conservative media outlet to have much, if any impact. Yet, nearly 5 million views later, and with the 2018 election cycle looming, The Tennessee Star has already achieved more than even our most ardent advocates could have imagined, both in terms of quantitative measurements as well as qualitative impact. Yes, there are those who say The Tennessee Star is “fake news” — usually right after we skewer them with the facts and investigative reporting that exposes the truth they prefer to keep silent. So, to those naysayers, and those who hope we are a one year wonder we can only say: “You ain’t seen nothing yet!!”