By Dr. Carol M. Swain
For weeks I have been telling folks the only viable GOP gubernatorial choices for Christian conservatives are Representative Diane Black and business owner Bill Lee. These two candidates are competing for and splitting the votes of Christian conservatives. Because I have friends supporting both candidates, I initially decided not to publicly endorse anyone; however, I believe too much is at stake to not voice my support for the candidate I will support.
I will be voting for Representative Diane Black for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. I believe Diane can defeat Karl Dean and become the next governor of Tennessee. Our state would benefit from having the steady hand of a strong conservative at the helm.
I am for Diane Black because she is a natural leader who has established herself over many years as a strong champion for conservative values and principles. She has always been a defender of the unborn and an advocate for adoption and healthcare reform. Her issues include human trafficking, protection of our Second Amendment rights, workforce training, protection of small towns, and the restoration of law and order. Diane’s conservative stances have earned her endorsements from the National Rifle Association and the Tennessee Right to Life Organization. She is a known quantity that evokes strong emotions for and against.
We can learn much about Diane by reading Dave Black’s very moving and painfully revealing book about their lives titled, Unstoppable: The Inspiring Story of How Diane Black Rose from Public Housing and Turned her Meager Beginnings into Stalwart Leadership. The book goes into intimate and at times embarrassing details about poverty, abuse, brokenness, eventual triumphs and successes. The reader learns Diane is a registered nurse, who owes part of her success to a guidance counselor who helped her get a scholarship. Diane has always worked hard. Their experiences and the attacks on Diane are causing me to wonder if rejection and hatred are common themes that trail people who come from the wrong side of the tracks and find themselves in positions or circumstances that generate envy.
In former Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the Senate Ron Ramsey’s foreword to Unstoppable, we read: “More than anyone else in the gubernatorial race, Diane embodies the conservative principles and philosophies of the people of the state of Tennessee. She has the experience and relationships to get things done that no one else on the campaign trail has. . .As a person, they don’t come any better—her Christian values shine through in everything she does (Unstoppable, 13).”
I like Diane’s tenacity and her determination. Dave Black, who adopted Diane’s children from a previous marriage, recounts the evening he stopped by Diane’s home for their first date only to find her under her car attempting to install a new muffler. She was wrestling with a rusted screw. Working together the two of them removed the old muffler and installed the new. Dave said it was not uncommon to come home during the early years of their marriage, when money was tight, to find an appliance like the washing machine turned on its side and Diane with a wrench or screw driver in hand determined to fix it.
Today, the Blacks are well off financially as a result of Dave’s efforts at Aegis Corporation. They own a lavish house that has garnered attention and criticism. The criticisms strike me as unfair. People seem to forget the Blacks are spending their own money earned by hard work and wise investments. By the way, the Blacks give millions of dollars to charities and other organizations known for good works.
As we head towards early voting, there are people quite upset at Diane for running negative campaign ads against opponents Randy Boyd and Bill Lee. Diane is accused of being the first candidate to go negative. Actually, the first negative ads were produced by an independent PAC associated with Randy Boyd. Using an independent PAC allows the candidate to deny responsibility. Diane, however, has taken responsibility for her ads. Negative ads are useful if they convey important truths that voters would not otherwise know. If Diane wanted to engage in deception and swamp politics, she could have allowed a wealthy supporter to setup an independent PAC to do the dirty work for her. I personally prefer transparency to subterfuge.
There are strong reasons to support Diane. Not least among them is her rags to riches story, her dedication to healthcare, her solid record of legislative achievements and leadership, as well as the Christian values and principles that have always guided her life. Diane has proven herself to be a tough, intelligent leader with street smarts. She knows how to outwit and outmaneuver the opposition. She works hard to be the most knowledgeable about the issues she is called to address. Her legislative experience at the state and federal levels make her the most qualified person in the gubernatorial race. From the day she announced her candidacy for governor, she had a clear vision of where she wants to take the state. Diane’s knowledge as well as her legislative and life experiences are assets not liabilities. This is why I support Diane Black for governor.
Carol M. Swain is a former associate professor of politics at Princeton University and former professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University. Her forthcoming new book is Debating Immigration: Second Edition (forthcoming, July 2018). Facebook: Profcarolmswain Twitter: @carolmswain E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org