RUTLEDGE, Tennessee – The Grainger County Republican Party had an impressive turnout of about 150 people at their Lincoln Day Dinner on Saturday, June 24 held in the nicely decorated Grainger County High School cafeteria, that featured Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) as the keynote speaker.
Harwell was introduced by Sen. Frank Nicely (R-Strawberry Plains) during the Legislative Welcome by him and Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station). Nicely’s comments were limited to “making everyone mad” as he put it, by saying that if she decides to run, he would be supporting Beth Harwell for governor.
Speaker Harwell spoke on the three pillars of the Republican Party: That Government is best which lives within its means; that government is best which governs least; and, that government is best which is closest to the people. While she provided examples of where she thinks Tennessee has succeeded in those areas, the politically engaged would have plenty of material to critique in terms of Harwell omitting the recent fuel tax and fee increases of the IMPROVE Act, the backstory as to who supported or tried to subvert the legislative advances she cited, and how much work remains to fully live up to the three pillars.
The agenda also included remarks on Tennessee’s Rural Development Initiatives and Issues by Randy Boyd, former Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, a position he left in January of this year to run for governor of Tennessee.
Boyd touched upon a few highlights of the Governor’s Rural Task Force, such as education, the Tennessee Promise free college tuition program he initiated, and rural broadband, and, not wanting to take too much time, said more details could be found in the 72-page report. The main goal set for the task force is to reduce the 19 Federally-designated distressed counties in Tennessee to zero by 2025.
During the Comments From 2018 Candidates and Political Guests portion of the agenda, Boyd got up again to speak as a gubernatorial candidate, as did Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet).
Boyd, a UT grad himself, started off by saying it’s been 20 years since University of Tennessee men won a championship, 10 years since the Lady Vols won, and 44 years since a UT grad had been elected governor, making his plea be the next governor. He relayed a touching story about his wife, Jenny, being adopted, and said he is not only pro-life, but pro adoption and wanted to make Tennessee the most adoption friendly state. Boyd stated the reason he is running for governor as, “God has blessed us beyond our wildest dreams, and we want to dedicate the rest of our lives to giving back.”
Beavers spoke on a variety of issues and topics, including illegal immigration, the gas tax increase, protection of life and the second amendment, citing her strong conservative voting record as a State Senator, and prior to that State Representative, going back to her taking a lead role in the successful fight against the state income tax. Beavers said that during the gubernatorial race, many will call themselves conservative, but made a promise, as governor, that she would deliver “bold, conservative leadership.”
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett was also called upon to speak, which drew a few laughs during his very limited 45-second comments, during which he revealed he would not be running for governor, leaving the impression that the news would come as a surprise to many in the room.
The evening wrapped up with a lively auction of items donated by local businesses and elected officials to raise money for the party. The premiere auction item was a custom upholstered rolling office chair donated by Rep. Sexton, as a product of his furniture manufacturing company.