If elected to the U.S. Senate, those were U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s promises to the Carter County Republican Party Thursday while keynoting the group’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner at Milligan College’s Sutton Hall.
Blackburn is the Republican frontrunner for retiring Sen. Bob Corker’s seat, and she seems poised to challenge former Tennessee governor and Democratic challenger Phil Bredesen in the November general election.
Nearly 200 Republicans from all across the region — including state Sen. Rusty Crowe, state Rep. Timothy Hill, state Rep. John Holsclaw, Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey and Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford — turned out to offer their support to Blackburn.
Before introducing her to a standing ovation, Crowe told the crowd how Blackburn “shook up” the Tennessee Senate when she was first elected in 1998, and later led a fierce campaign against former Gov. Don Sundquist’s proposed state income tax.
“I have to tell you, without Marsha Blackburn, you’d have a (state) income tax right now, and Tennessee wouldn’t have all these businesses that we’ve got coming in,” Crowe said.
A hardline conservative, Blackburn pledged to the crowd that she would support President Donald Trump’s agenda and fix what she believes is a “dysfunctional” U.S. Senate.
“It is totally dysfunctional and in desperate need of some positive, conservative change. That is the reason to go there to be a catalyst for change. I’ve always done a pretty good job of bringing change when it was needed,” Blackburn said.
Since launching her Senate bid in October, Blackburn said she’s remained extremely busy juggling her Congressional duties while remaining active on the campaign trail.
“It makes for a very full plate. I’m really busy, but I love it,” the Mississippi native said.
Although Corker has said he will vote for Blackburn, he admitted in late April on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he would not actively campaign against Bredesen, who he considers a longtime friend.
“I think we’re going to be just fine,” Blackburn said in response to Corker’s decision to not campaign against her likely Democratic opponent. “Senator Corker supported me in the past. I’ve supported him, and this time is no different.”
Back on stage, Blackburn took a few digs at Bredesen over comments he apparently made about not supporting the recently-passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
“My opponent, it’s like he disagrees with me on just about everything. How in the world can he possibly support President Trump and vote for tax cuts when he’s already said he would have voted against the tax cuts had he been in the Senate? He’s said that they were crumbs,” Blackburn said.
In a recent television ad, Bredesen tells viewers, if he thought one of the president’s proposals would be good for Tennesseans, he would support it as a member of the U.S. Senate.
“When (Bredesen) was governor, he gave driver licenses to illegal aliens. So he is not going to be able to go there and vote to repeal Obamacare, vote for more tax cuts, vote to build that wall and secure that southern border because he doesn’t agree on those issues,” Blackburn said.
Listening to voters across the state, Blackburn said Tennesseans just want a “few simple things.”
“First and foremost, they want a U.S. senator who is going to stand with President Donald Trump. They want to make certain that their senator is going to be there to help push his agenda across the finish line,” Blackburn said.
“They want to see sanctuary city polices ended. They want the border wall built. They want to make certain that we end chain migration, that we end the visa diversity lottery and that we accomplish this without giving amnesty. They want to make sure that they have a member of the U.S. Senate who is going to support to fund the military and our veterans.”