diane black

Black raising money for reelection to Congress, not a run for governor

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who has been mulling a run for the 2018 Republican gubernatorial nomination for months, has scheduled a Washington fundraiser this week — $2,500 admission for a “PAC host,” $1,000 for a “PAC attendee” and $500 for a non-PAC person – with proceeds earmarked for her congressional reelection campaign fund, reports Tennessee Star.

Thursday night’s fundraiser will be held at Ocean Prime, one of the premiere eating establishments on Capitol Hill.

The menu, which features a Ribeye Steak for $52 and Dutch Harbor King Crab Legs for $65, is well suited to Washington lobbyists, but a far cry from the Cracker Barrels that dot the I-40 corridor of the Sixth Congressional District Black represents in Tennessee.

The news of Black’s Congressional fundraiser has veteran political tea leaf readers across the state of Tennessee scratching their heads.

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Lots of Republians eyeing run for Black’s seat — if she runs for governor

While state Rep. Judd Matheny has declared flatly that he’s run for the 6th Congressional District seat if incumbent Republican Diane Black runs for governor instead of seeking reelection, Cari Wade Gervin reports there’s a long list of others considering the idea as well.

If Black does not run for Congress, the 6th District is likely to have a crowded Republican primary, with Matheny, Cookeville blogger Christopher B. Monday and possibly television pundit and Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes. Meanwhile, rumors are swirling about other current state legislators contemplating a race, like state Sen. Mark Green (R-Clarksville), Rep. William Lamberth (R-Cottontown) and Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville).

Lamberth said he has not decided anything about a run but “is flattered that my fellow Tennesseans would consider me a possible candidate.” Also, House Majority Caucus Chair Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) said he “has not ruled anything out” regarding a congressional run. But, he added, “It’s still a long ways away. Right now my only focus is on leading my caucus and serving my constituents.”

Another possible candidate is John Rose, the president of Boson Software, a Nashville-based information technology training provider, and a former state secretary of agriculture under then-Gov. Don Sundquist. Rose serves on the board of the Tennessee Tech University Foundation and is the chair of the Tennessee State Fair Association. Rose also owns one of the state’s oldest working farms, established in Smith County in 1790, prior to the formal existence of Tennessee.

Rep. Judd Matheny: I’ll run for Diane Black’s congressional seat if she runs for governor

State Rep. Judd Matheny tells Tennessee Star that he’s “100 percent in the race for Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District” – if incumbent Republican Diane Black runs for governor instead of seeking reelection.

Black (R-TN), who currently represents the 6th Congressional District, is considered likely to enter the race for the Republican nomination for governor in 2018. Rumors abound as to when that might happen, but the consensus is that if she decides to run, she will need to make the announcement some time between July and September.

… “If Diane Black does not run for governor, I will not run for the 6th Congressional district seat, and will instead for re-election to the Tennessee House of Representatives,” Matheny said.

First elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2002, Matheny has long been a champion of conservative causes in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Matheny was one of 35 Republican members of the House of Representatives who voted against Governor’ Haslam’s gas tax increase in the critical House vote in April where the bill passed by a 60 to 37 margin.

Note: State Sen. Mark Green, who has bowed out of the governor’s race saying he’s inclined toward seeking a position in Washington, is another potential candidate for the 6th District seat (Previous post HERE). As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Black is currently trying to come up with a federal budget plan — and having lots of problems because of Republican infighting, according to a review of the situation today in Politico.  As previously noted, she apparently will have to resign as a committee chairman once she announces as a candidate for governor.

Black delaying governor announcement until after finishing U.S. House budget work?

Rep. Diane Black will have to step down as chair of the House Budget Committee if she announces as  candidate for governor, reports The Hill, but is still likely to do so later this year – “perhaps as soon as this summer.” The Washington publication quotes “House colleagues and GOP sources.”

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Trump budget ax would slash lots of fed spendng in TN

Dozens of programs that provide funding or services in Tennessee are targeted for elimination or drastic cuts under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, reports Michael Collins.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Delta Regional Authority all would be impacted by Trump’s spending plan, released early Thursday and dubbed “America’s First” budget by the White House.

Other programs that reach into the state yet would get no funding under Trump’s budget include Community Development Block Grants, which provide resources to cities for a variety of activities such as affordable housing and anti-poverty initiatives; the Meals on Wheels food-delivery program for the elderly; the Minority Business Development Agency, which works to help minority-owned businesses grow and stay competitive; and heating assistance for low-income residents.

“The list of important programs cut or eliminated is huge,” said Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis. “President Trump’s budget will thrust America into social and cultural deterioration, a new Dark Ages.”


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Black (flustered?) faces pro-Obamacare protesters at GOP town hall

In reporting that “raw emotions are boiling over” in protests against Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare nationwide at town hall meetings, CNN cites examples of protests involving congressmen in Utah and Tennessee.  In the latter case, U.S. Rep. Diane Black (who chairs a House committee looking at Obamacare repeal and is eyeing a run for governor) was the focus — though three Republican state legislators were also on hand.

An excerpt from the Tennessee portion of the CNN report (followed by an excerpt from the local Murfreesboro newspaper):

And some 1,700 miles away in the town of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Black was met with roughly 100 protesters at a “Ask Your Reps” event hosted by the Middle Tennessee State University’s College Republicans.

Mike Carlson, a 32-year-old student from Antioch, Tennessee, said that as an overweight man, he depended on Obamacare to stay alive.

“I have to have coverage to make sure I don’t die. There are people now who have cancer that have that coverage, that have to have that coverage to make sure they don’t die,” Carlson said. “And you want to take away this coverage — and have nothing to replace it with! How can I trust you to do anything that’s in our interest at all?”

Jessi Bohon, a 35-year-old high school teacher who lives in Cookeville, Tennessee, was visibly emotional as she stood up and posed her question.

“As a Christian, my whole philosophy in life is pull up the unfortunate,” Bohon said, a comment that drew verbal affirmation from others in the room. “The individual mandate: that’s what it does. The healthy people pull up the sick.”

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Black visists Harwell, says new congressional committee chair ‘does’t preclude’ 2018 run for governor

U.S. Rep. Diane Black visited the Legislative Plaza Thursday and had some encounters with reporters curious about reports she may run for governor.

From The Tennessean:

Black, recently named chairman of the powerful U.S. House Budget Committee, said she was in Nashville to meet with House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally to discuss “what’s going on up in D.C., and what we’re maybe doing with some block grants, and just get some opinions from them.”

… Black was escorted around Legislative Plaza by Republican campaign operative Ward Baker, who served as executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the November election cycle. A Black loyalist, Baker is credited with helping the GOP maintain control of the U.S. Senate and will likely be in high demand for campaigns in the 2018 election cycle.

She was asked where the new committee chair position would deter her from running for the 2018 Republican gubernatorial nomination, reports the Times-Free Press.

Black described the committee chairmanship as “an opportunity for me to be able to do what I went up there to do – and that is to make sure we get the budget in order and work on plans to move this country forward.

“So,” Black added, “it’s an opportunity but that doesn’t preclude me from doing things later down the road.”

As for her thoughts about seeking the governorship, Black said, “Right now I’m working what I need to do with [block] grants and making sure I’m doing the right thing for the state of Tennessee. That is my focus right now.”

Asked about congressional Democrats’ complaints that Republicans have no real plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, Black said “we’re working on that. You’ll be getting some good information in a couple of weeks.”

Other Republicans who’ve expressed interest in succeeding the term-limited Republican Gov. Bill Haslam  include state Sen. Mike Green of Clarksville; House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville; state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville; former state Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd of Knoxville and Bill Lee, chairman of Franklin, Tenn.-based Lee Company.

Black named interim House Budget Committee chair

House Republicans have named Rep. Diane Black to be interim chairman of the Budget Committee, in a move that Politico reports is aimed at keeping the GOP agenda moving swiftly while current Chairman Tom Price focuses on his nomination to be President-elect Donald Trump’s HHS secretary.

House Speaker Paul Ryan offered the proposal at a House GOP conference meeting Monday night, which he said would allow the Budget Committee to get up and running as quickly as possible, while giving Price the ability to fully prepare for a confirmation gantlet in the Senate, according to Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong.

Upon Price’s confirmation, the Republican Steering Committee would select a permanent chairman. Black, a Tennessee Republican, would seem to have the inside track for the job, though Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), the vice chairman, is also vying for the post.

The Budget chairman will play a crucial role for the GOP in the coming months, helping to steer controversial efforts to repeal Obamacare and potentially approve a massive tax reform package. That’s because Republicans are planning to use a powerful procedural tool known as budget reconciliation to bypass the Senate’s typical 60-vote threshold and jam through legislation on party-line votes.


Black reported in line to become U.S. House Budget Committee chair

U.S. Rep. Diane Black is the leading candidate to chair the House Budget Committee, likely leap-frogging more senior panel members to become the first woman to head the high-profile panel, according to Politico (quoting “Republican leadership sources”).

The Tennessee Republican, entering her fourth term, would replace current Budget Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.), President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Health and Human Services Department. Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), who is also vying for the post, would likely remain vice chairman, the sources said.

As chairwoman, Black would find herself at center stage next year for the GOP’s controversial efforts to repeal Obamacare and potentially approve a massive tax reform package. Republicans are planning to use a budget procedure known as reconciliation to bypass the Senate’s typical 60-vote threshold and jam through GOP bills on a party-line vote.

Republicans will begin that process as early as next week, when they return to Capitol Hill and begin the process of passing a fiscal 2017 budget with instructions to dismantle President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

It is unclear when Price will vacate the position. Senate confirmation hearings for Price have not yet been scheduled.

The Republican Steering Committee, which votes on chairmanships, is expected to schedule a vote for the Budget Committee position as soon as Price resigns from Congress. Price could, theoretically, step down from his current chairmanship position before he is confirmed as HHS secretary, triggering the budget committee vote for his replacement.

…Black’s office declined to comment. A spokesman for Rokita said the GOP lawmaker would back Black, “his friend,” for the post.

Note: Black,66, is reportedly considering a run for governor in 2018. Her elevation to budget chair, presumably, might make the option of staying in Congress more appealing.

UPDATE/NOTE: The Tennessean reported Friday finding “a source with knowledge of the talks” who also says Black is the leading candidate for the chairmanship. Further:

If Black were to elevate to that role, Tennessee’s delegation would further boost its clout in Washington. Sen. Bob Corker chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Sen. Lamar Alexander chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; and Rep. Phil Roe now chairs the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, having been appointed earlier this month.

…Some Republican candidates who were once tepid about entering the (2018 gubernatorial) fray could suddenly become rejuvenated about their effort to vie for the party’s nomination if they believe Black’s ascension would eliminate her from the race.

“This will not affect her decision to run for governor,” another source close to Black told The Tennessean on Friday.

TN GOP congressmen hail Trump triumph

Press release statements from some Tennessee members of Congress:

From U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (prominently mentioned as a potential Trump cabinet appointee): “The American people and the citizens of Tennessee have spoken in a remarkable and resounding way, and I congratulate President-elect Trump on his hard earned win,” said Corker. “The real work now begins as we address the many challenges facing our great country, and I am looking forward to working with President Trump and the rest of the Congress to move our country forward.”

From U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander: “Congratulations to President-elect Trump. The election belongs to the people and the people have voted for change. Donald Trump is the agent for that change. Now it is the responsibility of the President-elect and the Congress to work together to address the voices of anger and despair, and of hope, that we heard yesterday. This includes reducing Washington’s role in our lives, making it easier to find a good job and less expensive health care, and making our system more fair. It’s time to put the election behind us. The way to make change and move our country in the right direction is to work together to bring out the best in all of us.”

From U.S. Rep. Diane Black: “Last night, we were reminded that the polls, the pundits, and the political elite don’t determine elections – voters do. With Donald Trump’s convincing win, Americans rejected the scandals and status quo politics of the Clinton campaign, and instead voted for real change to take our country back from the liberal stranglehold of the last eight years,” said Diane Black. “I am elated over Donald Trump’s decisive victory and look forward to working with him and our House and Senate Republican majorities to repeal Obamacare, protect life, secure our border, and act on other conservative reforms. With Donald Trump as our 45th President, we will make America great again.” 

From U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann: “I wholeheartedly congratulate President-elect Donald Trump on his historic and hard-fought win.  America has spoken and it’s time Washington listens,” said Fleischmann.  “I look forward to working with him and continuing to serve the Third District of Tennessee.” 


From U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (Democrat): “It’s an honor to continue serving Middle Tennesseans in Congress. There has never been a more important time for civility,” Rep. Cooper said. “I hope the president-elect will pledge to represent all people – including those who legitimately and genuinely feel threatened by him – not just those who voted for him.”