In a specific discussion on Monday morning’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – the duo spoke to Heidi Shafer, candidate for the GOP nomination in the State Senate special election in the Memphis area to replace Mark Norris and specifically about how she’s running her campaign and what makes her a stand out candidate from the others.
Leahy: We have on the line now, Heidi Shafer who is a candidate for the special election Republican primary in state senate district thirty-two in the Memphis area that former state senator Mark Norris, who’s now a federal judge resigned from. Heidi, welcome to the Tennessee Star Report!
Gill: Hey Heidi.
Shafer: Good morning. Happy New Year everybody!
Gill: Now early voting started Friday so the voting has already started right?
Shafer: Yes, and because this is a special election it’s the only thing on the ballot. The voting is going to be slow, turnout is going to be minimal, which means that every single vote is going to matter more than ever.
Leahy: So you’re running against a couple other Republicans. I guess Steve McManus a former state representative. Tipton County construction executive, Paul Rose and a defeated Shelby County trustee candidate and former commissioner George Chisam. Now the Daily Memphian said that you are rated as the favorite, precisely because quote, “It will be a low turnout affair, in which her greater, your greater name recognition, high professional reputation as a commission chair last year and especially your willingness to campaign tirelessly should be more than enough to make up the difference.” What do you say to that Heidi?
Shafer: Well I’m very honored. It’s unusual for me to be noticed as a favorite by anybody in the establishment because I’ve always been very grassroots. But I’ll tell you what, I we’re feel very good about it. We’re moving forward with the campaign very very aggressively.
Gill: One of the challenges of these January special elections, and we’ve seen several over the last several years because you’ll have somebody get elected to something and they’ll move on whether it’s from Congress or into an administration position. And you’ve always got the risk of an ice storm or a snow storm on election day. So what you do during early voting in getting your vote and getting them locked in is critical.
Shafer agreed that especially in this election, it’s very different. She boasted of her eight-year track record of deliverance to the people and her disappointment of hearing how people that got into office did not returnphone calls or stand up to controversial issues. She believes that the government needs to work for the people and not the other way around. Gill concurred stating that in the past, people would run as a conservative and on what they would do and that when they did get elected they would move left. Shafer stated that she believes that this is a serious time where we need steady and aggressive leadership fighting for the people and that the eighties are over and that there is no more back slapping.
Shafer: I’ll tell you one of the issues that I’m working with right now is the Memphis Mega Site. It’s kind of a, we all want it to be successful but the way it was set up as a Democrat boondoggle that we’re trying to figure out how to make work. And what some of the folks, the Randy Boyd camp particularly have quickly thrown together was to put a waste line all the way across from Haywood County all the way across Tipton County to dump everything into the Mississippi River. Let me tell you, that digs up so much farm ground and so much family property for a fourth main that nobody even can tap into. That doesn’t seem like the best solution at all.
Leahy: So what are some of the other issues that are driving this race, Heidi?
Shafer: Well the real issues for my people what they’re looking at is people who will stand up for their community. Of course, we’re going to need to be looking at what in the world are we going to do with healthcare, how are we going to improve schools. But mostly what people are looking for is somebody to move West Tennessee forward. I’ve got to tell, you those of us in the twenty-one counties over here, we’re falling behind. And some of it’s our fault. So we need to really put our heads together and figure out how we are going to move forward in a way where we can move forward with the rest of the state.
Leahy: That’s been a consistent theme hasn’t it? That West Tennessee has been ignored if you will by the state government here in Nashville.
Shafer: Well yes, and some of it honestly is because we haven’t been as unified as we could be and we should be. I joined a group called West Star about two years ago and we went to all of the counties in West Tennessee and looked at their highs and lows. And I found out that we’re all pretty much experiencing the same thing. So geez, I’m no rocket scientist but seems to me like if we continue to build those relationships and start voting together and speak with a more unified voice. That will make it easier for our compatriots in Middle and East Tennessee then to understand what we really need and we can move together. You know, I keep telling my folks in East and Middle Tennessee that West Tennessee isn’t succeeding.
Gill: We got you whether we like it or not so you might as well make it better. Heidi Shafer with us by the way running in a special election for the State Senate in West Tennessee to fill the vacancy of Mark Norris who’s moved up to a federal judgeship. Heidi when you look at the process, you’ve got the early voting has already started, you’ve got the primary election. When is general election day, so when would be the earliest you would join a legislative session already in play?
Shafer went on to explain that March 12th is general election day and that whoever wins the Republican primary will need to make sure they are up to speed on the issues. She went on to note that she’s very familiar with how the state legislature runs, is great working on a team, and that she knows what needs to happen. She believes that it won’t be hard for her to catch up.
Gill: And we’ve talked a little bit about the issues that are up. You’ve got Republican supermajorities in the state house. Republican supermajorities in the State Senate. A Republican Governor. It should be a Republican agenda that’s being put forward, but is it going to be a conservative agenda that’s going to be put forward?
Shafer: Well and that’ really the thing. I mean shoot, we all know that Republicans come in lots and lots of different shapes and sizes and colors right? So somebody can call themselves a Republican but their voting record can be solidly liberal. I mean, Bob Corker calls himself a Republican and he’s not, I’ve never been a big fan of the way that he’s actually governed which was much different from the way that he…
Leahy: And let me add, I’m so delighted to say this, that would be former Senator Bob Corker.
Shafer: Yes exactly, and let me say I was so glad and I helped my friend Marsha Blackburn run. You know but it really it’s a, everything in government is about building your coalition. You have to have a coalition of the will. You’ve got to make your case and you’ve to put together the team to get things passed. It is an art and it’s a skill. And not everybody is able to actually get things moved. And then what people want to know too is they don’t just want to just throw you up there and say well we’re just going to trust you to do it. They want communication back and they want to make sure that whoever is up there is accountable to them. My track record is really strong in that.
Shafer and Gill concluded the conversation with information on how to be a part of or to suggest someone in her district get involved can be found at her website heidishafer.com. She can also be found on [email protected].
Shafer added, “I love constituent service. I love making sure we’re looped in with the folks and I’m really excited. I think I’m in very good shape to win this and be the next state senator.”
Listen to the full segment here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 am to the Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Heidi Shafer” by Heidi Shafer.