During a campaign trip to Kingsport, tucked up on the northeast corner of the state, the local newspaper spent some time with gubernatorial hopeful Randy Boyd and came away with two clear messages: the Knoxville businessman and former Haslam appointee is in-it-to-win-it, and is about to ‘turn the volume way up.’
“It’s early and in some of the early polls, when they ask about me, it’s about name ID,” Mr. Boyd told the Kingsport Times News. “[Black] usually leads with name ID, but being known and being favored to be the next governor are two different things. Most people really haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it yet, but over the next six months, the volume is going to be turned way up. People are going to learn more and more about the candidates. I still believe they are going to vote for a nonprofessional politician and business person and outsider over some politician in D.C.” (emphasis added)
Boyd’s claim to be a ‘nonprofessional politician’ is accurate. However, recall that Randy Boyd was tapped by the Haslam Administration in 2013 to serve as a special adviser on higher education, where he helped to develop the ‘Drive to 55’ initiative. It was during his tenure advising the governor that Boyd attended the 2013-14 class of the Haslam-funded ‘Leadership Tennessee,’ program at Lipscomb University. Then in 2015, Governor Haslam appointed Boyd to be the Tennessee Economic Development Commissioner.
As The Tennessee Star reported in March 2017:
“Leadership Tennessee” the 10-month leadership education program hosted by Lipscomb University and funded in part by The Haslam Foundation, Haslam family’s Flying Pilot J, the Hyde Family Foundation and the Cornerstone Foundation of Knoxville, whose board at one time included Haslam, says it’s mission is to “foster[s] collaborative, non-partisan dialogue…”
Two members of Class 1 of Leadership Tennessee (2013 to 2014) are currently candidates for governor: former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and former Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Randy Boyd.
One member of Class 1, Renata Soto, is chairman of the board of the National Council of La Raza, a group funded in part by George Soros, and the Executive Director of Conexion Americas, a Nashville based group to which Boyd and his wife contributed approximately $250,000 in September 2016. Conexion Americas is listed as a Tennessee affiliate of the National Council of La Raza.
Regular readers of The Star will recognize many of the program’s graduates as newer and up-and-coming elites who have had significant impact in the direction of politics and policy over the recent years.
Back in Kingsport, Boyd opened up about this positions to the Times News on some of the most critical issues dominating the headlines at the moment:
The opioid crisis, which is a legislative priority in this year’s General Assembly: “I’m hopeful that in addition to some bills, we can take some executive action quickly. There are some things we can do, like declare a state of emergency. We can appoint a chief epidemic officer to organize the executive branch around this problem. The chief epidemic officer could have TennCare, the Department of Health working together on education and helping young people understand how dangerous these things are, get these resources going and discuss an action plan every day. This is a situation where nobody really owns it, but somebody needs to own it.”
The possibility of a Northeast Tennessee megasite for economic development: “In Northeast Tennessee, it’s unlikely to have a megasite per se because it’s 4,100 acres, and that’s hard to find 4,100 acres in East Tennessee. But I think we can do smaller, high-value-added sites like Aerospace Park at Tri-Cities Airport. There we have a potential site that could draw not only jobs but high-paying jobs.”
The volatile issue of removing Confederate statues: “I believe our history is our history and we need to protect our history so we can learn from it. I would hope we could sit down with people with different views on this and come up with a workable solution, some way to put our history in perspective and preserving it at the same time.”
The Times News reported Boyd also spent some time meeting with the young entrepreneurs at the Sync Space on Sullivan Street and the Professionals Engaged in Advancing Kingsport (PEAK):
“What I shared was how critical they are to our state’s future. … The future of our state is going to be determined by entrepreneurs, people who haven’t started their business yet,” Boyd noted. “We’ve got to do everything we can to support them. … They shared back with me that their biggest challenge is capital. I’m going to have to find more ways to attract startup capital in the state of Tennessee.”