In a remarkable year for State Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville), who was the first to announce a run for governor and then selected as President Trump’s choice for Army secretary, later withdrawing his name from consideration as his nomination process became “a distraction,” followed by a grassroots effort to recruit him back into the gubernatorial race, and presented the Outstanding Achievement in State Tax Reform award from the Tax Foundation, Green has taken on a decidedly different cause that some might view as “a calling.”
Green announced Wednesday on WWTN 99.7 Nashville Morning News that he, along with 12-year Georgia State Senator Judson Hill who resigned in 2017 to run for Congress, are forming a 501(c)4 not-for-profit and a corresponding super PAC, with the purpose of recruiting “people of faith to run for elected office.”
Putting his own political advancement on hold until 2020, Green said he would continue to serve in his current State Senate seat while he runs the new nationwide effort. Some of the reasons Green cited for that are that there are already “great people” in some of the races and that, with the turnover in 2018, there is a need for some continuity in the Senate.
Green said the idea for his new effort came to him in May, when not just he but others were being attacked by a small but very vocal group simply because of their faith. Green said he has a passion to ensure that people of faith have a voice in the future of our country.
The effort is symbolically named Five Stones Network for “the five stones that David took from the brook and put in his pouch and went off to slay the giant,” and will have a web presence shortly.
The full transcript of the interview, with Dan Mandis filling in for Ralph Bristol, can be read below.
Dan Mandis: State Senator Mark Green has had quite the amazing journey over the past six months or so and he joins us this morning on Nashville’s Morning News. Sir, I appreciate you being with us and announcing whatever it is your future plans are. Now we all know you withdrew your name as Army Secretary nominee for President Trump. Then you decided, because everybody thought you were going to run for governor and you did not. So the question for you is what’s next? There have been rumors, of course, that you have many options ahead of you politically. You could run for Diane Black’s seat as she runs for governor or you could run for Senate. So, I guess the world awaits what your decision is. What’s going on, Sir?
Sen. Mark Green: Morning Dan and it’s great to talk to you. I assume Ralph is off vacationing somewhere.
Dan Mandis: Yes he is.
Sen. Mark Green: Thanks for having me on the show and, yeah, we’re basically making an announcement today that I, along with former Georgia State Senator Judson Hill, are going to form a 501(c)4 not-for-profit and a corresponding super PAC and we’re basically going to recruit people of faith to run for elected office. And, as everything sits right now with the races that as they’re forming for 2018 I don’t intend to run for any office in 2018. I’ll just stay a Tennessee State Senator and serve in that capacity and do this nationwide effort to get and recruit people of faith to run for office.
Dan Mandis: I got to ask, what was it that brought you to this decision? Because, I mean, I’ll be honest with you, I’m a little surprised because you’re somebody who has a lot of supporters in the state of Tennessee, what led you to this decision?
Sen. Mark Green: I think it’s a combination of things, but clearly probably the most heavy on my heart is just what happened to me in Washington D.C. and what I’ve seen happen to other people. I think most of the folks in Tennessee are familiar with my experience and what I went through and it was very clear that people were attacking me because of you know what I believe and what my faith is. But there were others. I mean the guy who worked at Heritage, I think his last name was Voght, he wound up going through the nomination process for Economic Development Office in the Trump administration, I mean he got hammered by Bernie Sanders in a video clip that sort of went viral simply because he was a Christian. And, I think that there’s this small, but vocal group out there has really started taking on people of faith, and so I got a real passion to you know to see and ensure that people of faith have a voice in the future direction of this country. And so we’re going to kick this off and I’ll run it for a couple of years and maybe Judson will take over when I’m done, former Senator Hill out of Georgia, and there are others that we’ve recruited to be on this effort. Then in 2020, I think you’ll see me back on the election cycle, but for right now I have a real passion to make sure that people of faith have a future voice in America and what happens in our country. That’s one, probably the biggest reason, but there are others.
Dan Mandis: Ok, so what are the others?
Sen. Mark Green: (Laughs) Well, I mean as I look at the elections that are out there, you take the 6th district, Judd Matheny’s a great friend of mine, some of the other people that are talking about doing that district are great friends of mine and I’m just not going to jump in a race. They’ll do a great job. Several of them are solid people and Judd Matheny is a great conservative, and whoever wins that district is going to do a great job, so there’s great people in that race. You know, U.S. Senate, you know I think that’s going to be an opportunity for me potentially later, not in 2018. And, our State Senate right now is going through a lot of transition. There’s a lot of turnover with Bill Ketron running for County Mayor, and Mark Norris leaving, there’s lots of other folks that’s not going to be in this next cycle. Of course, Mae Beavers is running for governor, so she’ll be out of the Senate after 2018. We need some, I think we need some consistency there, so I think staying there and continuing to serve my district is one of many reasons why we opted to do this instead.
Dan Mandis: I think it’s going to be really interesting. You can find the Christian candidates and you can run them, but the problem as you well know because you lived through this and you’ve been watching this, is that there is such a culture in Washington D.C., as you noted, to attack the Christian candidates and so I guess the question is you can bring the candidates but how do you change that culture in Washington where these candidates will not be attacked for their faith.?
Sen. Mark Green: Well, I think there are a lot of things that you can do. You can leverage partnerships with organizations like Lift The Vote, 2nd Vote which is an organization that basically educates people on both policy and companies that are either pro or anti people of faith, so I mean you can get the word out there very clearly. You know, Target made a recent stand on an issue and people voted by not going to the store and they lost a billion dollars worth of market value because of that decision. So there are ways that Christians can be motivated and other people of faith to basically get in the arena and live out their faith and have influence. We’ll be basically marshaling all of those forces with partnerships with those organizations to make that happen.
Dan Mandis: It seems to me, Mark, what you’re doing is you’re putting your own personal political career on hold almost for a higher calling, is kind of how I’m, is my impression. What kind of partnerships do you have, you’ve mentioned partnerships a couple of different times now, so let’s go through how big and vast of an organization you’re building. I know this is really starting from the ground floor now, but I know that this is going to be a process. Talk about the partner involved with.
Sen. Mark Green: So there are a lot of organizations, if you look at the things that sort of burdening our heart, you want to look at policy we want to look at actually finding candidates who are people of faith, genuine faith, get them in the political arena and then we want to have an impact on, you know, seeing those guys and gals make a difference. So, there are organizations like Heritage, there are organizations like Family Research Council, 2nd Vote I mentioned already, Lift the Vote, that we’re talking with and there people also that are more purely political, for example, the Senate Conservatives Fund, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, that we will work with if they’ve got a candidate that is clearly a person of faith and they want to get that person elected, we can work together to help that person get elected then we’re going to do that. We’ve already started conversations with many of those organizations. So, this is actually an idea I’ve had since May, since all this transpired with me, so it’s just been in the back of my head it hasn’t left my head, so maybe I’m supposed to do something.
Dan Mandis: Well, you know it’s just interesting because you went from such a high to such a low. You’ve got the President of the United States asking you to be his Army Secretary and then it seems to me you were pretty much abandoned by that administration. Very quickly, Mark, talk about that period in time where it was such a high and then such a low and how that may have formed or changed your perspective.
Sen. Mark Green: Well, I think, obviously the President at that period of time if you go back and look at what all was happening in and around the administration, you know, they had a lot of irons in the fire and you know I was one of many different things that unfortunately became a distraction and I think they knew what they wanted to do going forward and so I became basically a fight that they didn’t want to fight. And, you know, I feel kind of course sad about that, I really wanted that job, I felt like I would have done a great job. There may be an opportunity for me to do that job in the future, but right now it’s, you know, they’re going in a different direction so you know disappointing, but you know for me there was a lot of, I guess, personal satisfaction knowing that the President of the United States picked me for that job and felt that I was you know competent to do the job, so that was rewarding and something that I took away from it. But, yeah, it was pretty disappointing not to get the job, but you know God kind of works in mysterious ways and this is where I think I’m supposed to be and you know this is what we’re going to do.
Dan Mandis: Sure, another door closes, another opens. How can people get more information on this organization that you’re starting. Does it have a name?
Sen. Mark Green: Yeah, the name is Five Stones Network and we basically named it after the five stones that David took from the brook and put in his pouch and went off to slay the giant. So, there’s a lot of reasons why we’re doing that. We’ve got five criteria for the candidates what we want to support, things like that, so it kind of works with our story.Â And, we’ll have a web presence very shortly. We’ve already talked with web developers and people will be able to look at fivestonesnetwork.com and be able to one, help us, because we’ll need donations to go out there and pick the right candidates to support, we’ll need volunteers, and we’ll need people praying for us. So, Five Stones Network is the name, and we’ll get our web presence up shortly.
Dan Mandis: Senator Mark Green, good luck to you and I know that when Ralph returns on Monday, he’s going to want to delve further into your cause. Five Stones Network, website to be announced.
Listen to the interview: