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Givens: Bredesen is applying for the job, Northeast Tennessee should hire him

Ken Givens, Special to the Johnson City Press • Sep 16, 2018 at 8:00 AM

This year, Tennesseans get to hire a new U.S. senator. It’s an important job, with a hand in determining the direction of our state and our country. So when you and I step into the ballot box, we should ask ourselves — Who’s the best applicant for the job?

Just like any employer, Tennesseans need to evaluate each applicant’s resume, including what positive things they’ve done for Tennessee so far, and how they want to build on Tennessee’s success in the U.S. Senate.

This November, Tennesseans have a choice: they can either pick eight-term Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn who’s been helping to create gridlock in Washington for nearly two decades, or they can hire Gov. Phil Bredesen, an independent thinker who has a proven track record of working across the aisle to get things done for Tennessee.

Governor Bredesen knows that nothing is given and everything is earned. He has three big, bold ideas to get things done for Northeast Tennessee. First, his first act in Congress will be to introduce legislation that gives the Drug Enforcement Agency back its authority to go after large shipments of opioids. The DEA was stripped of this power by a law passed in 2016, allowing opioids to flood into Tennessee communities.

Second, Governor Bredesen wants to empower TVA to expand rural broadband throughout the region. He’d proposing a bold project for TVA to be empowered to live up to its original mission to “serve the people of the Tennessee Valley to help the region thrive and grow” — this time by connecting rural communities to broadband internet.

Third, Governor Bredesen has proposed to overhaul the federal student loan system, simplifying a process weighed down by bureaucratic red tape. Under Governor Bredesen’s plan, students would be able to pay into one loan system, borrow only up to a third of the cost of their institution, and pay the loan back over a 30-year period at a lower interest rate.

Governor Bredesen has made it clear that he’s applying for the job, but he also has a proven track record of getting things done for Northeast Tennessee.

Unlike the double-speak that we so often hear from long-time Washington politicians like Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn — who have been in office for years but have very little to show for it — his actions do all of the talking.

During his time as governor, Phil Bredesen was a champion for Northeast Tennessee. Our region was facing a shortage of pharmacists, In response, in 2005, Governor Bredesen helped establish the Gatton College Pharmacy at ETSU. Today, our region is reaping the rewards: The Gatton College of Pharmacy is on the front lines of the opioid crisis in Northeast Tennessee, fighting opioid addiction throughout our communities.

The Gatton College of Pharmacy is clear evidence of Governor Bredesen’s ability to take on tough problems, fix what’s broken, and get our state back on track.

Now, Governor Bredesen wants to take his experience and bring some fresh air to what has become a swamp of partisan shouting and inaction. He’s a practical and proven leader who will represent our needs and values of hard-work and determination to bring some Tennessee common-sense back to our government — not someone who’ll sit up there to do some of the same ole, same ole we’ve been getting from Congress. Governor Bredesen has made it clear: he’s applying for the job.

I am proud to cast my vote for Phil Bredesen, a true advocate for Tennesseans — and help him get the job. On Nov. 6, let’s hire Phil Bredesen to be our next U.S. senator.

Ken Givens is a former chairman of the state House Agriculture Committee and served as the 34th Commissioner of Agriculture from 2003-2010.

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