Pushing buttons for party faithful

Sandra Clark

House Speaker Beth Harwell got a big endorsement for a possible race for governor. It might have made the long drive to Maynardville worth it.

Harwell spoke April 16 at the Lincoln/Reagan Dinner at Union County High School.

State Sen. Frank Niceley, running for re-election without opposition, said he and Harwell came to the Legislature in 1988.

In the House, he said, 99 people think they should be Speaker. Harwell won election as Speaker in 2012, the first woman to hold the post.

“When the Democrats were in control, they raised some tax every year. … Since 2012, we’ve not raised taxes at all, … and we’ve got a billion dollar surplus. …

“She’s not made up her mind (about running for governor), but I’ve made up my mind. If she runs, I’ll back her,” Niceley said.

Harwell got three standing ovations from the GOP faithful, including some from Knox County: state Rep. Harry Brooks, Jack and Joyce Huddleston, and Ted and Carla Hatfield.

David Allan Coe sang that a good country song needs the words “mama and trains and trucks and prison and getting drunk.”

Well, a good Republican speech requires “God and flag and life and veterans and Ronald Reagan.”

Harwell pushed most of those buttons, adding quotes from Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. She also managed to casually mention her husband, her daughter and her church.

What she didn’t do (sadly) was inspire us to get up every morning trying to elect her as governor.

One woman in the room emailed: “Beth Harwell did a wonderful job last night, don’t you think? I was glad to see strong female presence at this year’s dinner.”

But another said, “Well, you can’t exactly call (the dinner) rousing.”

Here’s some unsolicited advice for House Speaker Harwell, a good woman whom I would like to support for governor:

■  Risk losing. Bring votes on Insure Tennessee and expelling Jeremy Durham. Appointing yet another study committee and moving Jeremy across the street show tepid leadership; playing not to lose.

■  Do homework. If you’re visiting Union County, know something about the state projects underway there. Sure, it’s hectic in Nashville as the session winds down. But just glance out the car window on Hwy. 33. Those yellow graders weren’t seen much in East Tennessee until Bill Haslam got elected governor.

Talk about the economic impact – the growth of jobs and retail in Maynardville when Hwy. 33 is four-laned from the interstate.

Look at Union County High School. Talk about the kids here, their achievement and opportunities. We are just mildly interested that Tennessee scored in the top half of test scores in fourth grade math (at No. 25).

■  Challenge us. Republicans are not greedy aristocrats obsessed with tax cuts – at least, not the ones I know. Republicans are optimistic, excited about capitalism and eager to share.

Whether it’s reading to a kid after school or donating money to build a park, Republicans stand ready to help make things better.

To quote an old friend:

“Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears.”

– Ronald Reagan

“The United States remains the last best hope for a mankind plagued by tyranny and deprivation. America is no stronger than its people – and that means you and me.

“Well, I believe in you, and I believe that if we work together, then one day we will say, ‘We fought the good fight. We finished the race. We kept the faith.’

“And to our children and our children’s children, we can say, ‘We did all that could be done in the brief time that was given us here on earth.’”

– Ronald Reagan

Gossip and Lies

Donald Trump spends two hours a day on his hair; Bernie Sanders’ barber is the wind, per Saturday Night Live.

Diane Ravitch says we could stop excessive testing in schools by requiring legislators and policymakers to take the tests they mandate – and publishing their scores. “This would prove the value of the tests. Why shouldn’t they all be able to pass the 8th grade math test?”

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