State Senator Dr. Mark Green (R-Clarksville), the Republican nominee for the 7th Congressional District seat currently held by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07), sat down for an exclusive interview with The Tennessee Star political editor Steve Gill earlier this month.
The 53-year-old physician, a long-time resident of Tennessee, and decorated combat veteran of the Iraq war, where he served as an Army Ranger, told Gill that his Christian faith is a defining element of his own life, but that Christians are increasingly being blackballed from public service.
Gill asked if this was a growing problem, citing the case of federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett. She was belittled for her Catholic faith during a September 2017 Senate confirmation hearing by Sen. Diane Feinstein, (D-CA), who said “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.”
Green said Christians are often the victims of misunderstanding by those who don’t share their faith.
“I think it’s just a misunderstanding that people have,” he said. “I am a Christian, and because I’m a Christian I love and serve everyone, even people who don’t believe the way I believe. When I went into combat I was going to potentially give my life for every American. So absolutely I think Christians can serve.”
While Christians aren’t perfect, those who are serious about their faith do try to live up to a high standard, Green said.
“You think of the set of morals and rules we live by – do not steal, do not lie, do not cheat – all of those things. Who do you want serving you? I think someone with those fixed morals, with a servant’s heart, who loves everybody and wants to serve everybody, that’s the best person to serve.”
You can watch the full interview here:
There are currently fewer military veterans in Congress than at any time since before World War II. That’s another area Green feels he can be of service.
“You take for example the ambush that happened in Nigeria, when Congress has the responsibility to oversight the Pentagon, you want somebody asking the questions that can say, ‘You know, where was your air support, where was your medical unit that was gonna come in and rescue if something went bad?’ I know the questions to ask on something like that. Someone who’s never served, they don’t know the questions to ask.”
He said the success of his campaign will be determined by whether he can get his story out to enough Tennesseans.
His opponent, Justin Kanew, is a 39-year-old Democrat and former reality-TV star who moved to Tennessee from Hollywood in 2016.
Green, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, said he won’t focus on his opponent but rather his own experience in real-life reality.
An earlier story in The Star focused on an excerpt from the full interview, in which Green described his proposal for a student loan repayment program with an employer contribution component, like a 401k.
“We’re just telling my story. When you hire someone to represent you, you want to know that they can make good decisions,” he said. “People make good decisions based on their intuitions. And intuition comes from your life experiences and values. My values are Tennessee values.
“I grew up on a small dirt road in a tiny town. I’ve worked hard all my life. I’m a Christian, I’m pro life. I’m pro Second Amendment. My values are Tennessee values. And my life experience? I’ve been a military officer, a combat veteran, I’m a physician, a patient, a cancer patient, I am a business entrepreneur, I started a company and grew it up to 1,000 employees, and I’ve been a legislator, an effective one who’s gotten stuff passed. Even with Democrats, I’ve sponsored bills with the Democrats in the House and we’ve gotten stuff done. That’s what we’re gonna talk about.”
One of Green’s most interesting assignments while in Iraq was to guard an important prisoner, Saddam Hussein.
“I go out to the cell, I’m looking at Saddam. I really thought I would just be there watching him sleep. But Saddam wanted to talk,” Green said. “It started when he asked me to take his blood pressure. And you know when you do that you’re sorta in someone’s face and they’re in your face, and he just very nonchalantly says ‘you know when I was a kid I wanted to be a physician but politics had too great a hold of my heart,’ and so the image of the Butcher of Baghdad taking the Hippocratic oath to do no harm is what started this conversation, pretty amazing.”
In early 2017, President Trump nominated Green to serve as Secretary of the Army, but Green withdrew from consideration after a number of special interest groups highlighted his explicitly Christian world view.
Green almost ran for governor of Tennessee instead of for Congress. He said he learned a lot from the withdrawan Secretary of the Army nomination.
“I learned a great deal from that. It made me very much aware that, the real fire is in Washington,” he said. “Tennessee is gonna be great, we’re at an A-minus right now. There are a few things that need to be fixed but for the most part Tennessee is running very well. Washington is failing.
“That’s where the fire is and I’m the guy that’s always kind of run into the fire, whether it was to be an ER physician, or to be an Army Ranger, I’ve always been the guy that’s gone to the tip of the spear, so to speak,” he added. “And, to put it in Army terms, that’s where I want to be. And that experience with the Secretary of the Army opened my eyes as to what is going on in Washington.”
Blackburn, who currently represents the 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, is the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN). She faces former Gov. Phil Bredesen, the Democrat nominee, in the November general election.
Green is favored to win the November general election to represent the 7th Congressional District, but is taking nothing for granted.