Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed former Tennessee Speaker Beth Harwell to announce her candidacy for the 5th Congressional District and her two top priorities if elected, reducing federal government overreach and irresponsible fiscal spending.
Leahy: We are joined now by Beth Harwell, the former speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives. Good morning, Beth! How are you?
Harwell: Good morning, Michael. I’m fine on this rainy morning.
Leahy: It is a little dreary out there. (Harwell chuckles) But I think you’re going to lighten the day up a little bit and provide a little cheer to some of our listeners.
Harwell: You’re kind to say that. But yes, I do have an announcement for your listeners.
Leahy: What might that announcement be, Beth Harwell?
Harwell: Well, that I am running for the 5th Congressional District.
Leahy: There it is – you are running. Beth Harwell just made news here exclusively on The Tennessee Star Report, as you promised. How many months ago was that? When were you in-studio with us?
Harwell: Three months ago. It was about three months ago.
Leahy: Three months ago. You made that promise to us before one of your rivals actually registered to vote here in the state for the first time. (Laughter) By the way, Beth Harwell, we did a search on your Republican bona fides, and we got your voting record all the way back as far as the computers would go – it’s 1996. (Chuckles)
Leahy: From what we can tell, you voted in every Republican primary since 1996 in the statewide election here. So I think you’re bona fide.
Harwell: Oh, thank you. I believe I am as well. I’ve been a longtime Middle Tennessee resident, that’s for sure.
Leahy: Now tell us why you’re running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives in the new 5th Congressional District of Tennessee, which includes the southern part of Davidson County, the western part of Wilson County, and eastern part of Williamson County?
I actually live in this district in the Spring Hill area – and then all of Marshall, all of Maury, all of Lewis County. Why are you running for Congress, Beth Harwell?
Harwell: Michael, as you mentioned in my introduction, I was the former Speaker of the House, and during that time, we rebuilt the Tennessee economy by not only reducing any taxes but also by eliminating at least three taxes.
We promoted school choice and every year we balanced our budget. Now currently, I’m teaching American history and politics, which is my love, professional teaching.
And I’m trying to teach real American history, where students learn to love their country and respect their heritage and certainly respect the United States Constitution. And now I’m running for Congress to fix America by bringing Tennessee common sense to Washington, D.C.
Leahy: Tell us a little bit about the idea of coming into Washington. The newly elected representative from the 5th District, when they hit the ground running in Washington, D.C., January of 2023, what in your background as Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives would prepare you?
Harwell: I think one of the things is, when you’ve served in state government, you see the pain of a federal overreach. We need to stop the extreme overreach of Washington D.C. and allow state and local governments to do what they do best, which is the governance.
So that’s going to be one of my main concerns. And I think I’d bring a unique experience because I’ve seen what federal overreach can do and damage our economy and damages our ability for self-government.
I think also I bring to the table fiscal responsibility. If you watch what’s going on in Washington, it’s absolute fiscal insanity. We cannot continue to have the debt we have and run it up every year. The solution is not to tax-increase more.
The solution is to come in and make reasonable, responsible, long-term cuts to the federal government. I really think security is a huge issue, although Tennessee is not a border state.
But I think at the end, as someone said, we’re all border states because they’re bringing illegal immigrants into this country and then dispersing them throughout the country. And that has a tremendous effect here in Middle Tennessee.
Leahy: Speaking of the border, a number of Republican members of Congress have called for the resignation of the Secretary of Homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, for his failure to enforce our immigration laws. Would you support such a call?
Harwell: Yes, I would.
Leahy: Oh! Made news right there. What would be the number one or number two priorities that you would have for your first term if you were to be elected and begin serving in the House of Representatives in January of 2023?
Harwell: I’ll repeat them again. We’ve got to stop federal overreach. The size of government has grown too much in Washington, D.C. I think, as I traveled this district and, Michael, I went about this a little bit differently than a lot of the other candidates.
I didn’t see the district and announce. What I did instead was see the district and then travel the district. I was in Maury County last week. I’ve been throughout this newly created district listening to and hearing people, to see if I was the right person to be the public servant. I didn’t announce. I went and talked to the people first. I didn’t announce and say, I’m going to come talk to you now.
Leahy: And I don’t think you needed a map or a GPS to find these different communities in the 5th Congressional District.
Harwell: I’ve been in every one of these communities many times. And it’s an honor to talk to these wonderful, lovely people that exist in Middle Tennessee. But the one thing you hear consistently is they’re tired of the government bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.
They don’t want more of it, and they want to control fiscal spending. And really, an important thing to a lot of people is securing our border.
Leahy: And the problem of illegal aliens having an impact on states that don’t border Mexico are obvious. We see that here a lot in Tennessee. And let me just talk to you about the district itself. It has different elements to it now, right? You live in the Davidson County part of it.
You’re familiar with Davidson County, but it’s different. Describe the district and the differences between, let’s say Davidson County, the suburban areas of Wilson County, Williamson County, and then the more rural areas of Maury, Marshall, and Lewis. How do you see the district?
Harwell: I think the one thing they all have in common is they are experiencing extreme growth and that’s a real issue for this area because we love being here in Middle Tennessee. We welcome people to our state but we also want to maintain what has made our culture and made Middle Tennessee such a wonderful place to live in.
But I will tell you there is a little difference. Obviously, I live in Davidson County. I spent a lot of time in Williamson County; as I said, I was in Maury County last week, and what fine folks there. To get to meet the new director of the Farm Bureau was important there in Maury County.
Marshall County, I spent a lot of time there and I know a lot of the elected officials there. And Wilson County has its challenges as it continues to grow. Now I only have a small portion of Wilson County, but it’s an area that’s growing tremendously.
Leahy: That growth is such a big issue here, isn’t it?
Harwell: It really is. And I will tell you the other thing I hear consistently, that they would love to get the federal government out of their schools.
Leahy: That is a big theme, isn’t it?
Harwell: Yes, it is. And nothing would please me more. When you look at the budget of the U.S. Federal Department of Education, it’s close to $8 billion.
You just think about that. They don’t teach a single child how to read up there in Washington, D.C. Not a single child. And yet they spend all that money on education. Can you imagine?
Leahy: Yeah, exactly.
Harwell: If the Department of Education would return that money to the state and local governments, what a difference that would make.
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