Beavers: ‘I’ll just say the people of Tennessee are not for sale’

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Hank Hayes — hhayes@timesnews.net

Tennessee state Sen. Mae Beavers, left, visits with supporters of her 2018 gubernatorial bid during an event hosted by the Northeast Chapter of the Tennessee Firearms Association and Kingsport Tea Party.

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Tennessee state Sen. Mae Beavers thinks she’s the real conservative in the 2018 governor’s race.

The Mount Juliet Republican stumped in Sullivan County on Monday at the Bass Pro Shops in Bristol during a meet-and-greet event hosted by the Northeast Chapter of the Tennessee Firearms Association and Kingsport Tea Party.

She’s up against two potential big self-funders, former state Economic Development Commissioner Randy Boyd and Franklin businessman Bill Lee, to replace term-limited Gov. Bill Haslam in the 2018 election cycle. House Speaker Beth Harwell, a Nashville Republican, is considering a gubernatorial bid. The only announced Democrat to run is former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean.

So what’s your initial message going forward in this race?

“The bottom line is I never thought about running for governor or had any intentions to run for governor. But this year, a lot of people tried to recruit me, saying, ‘We need a real conservative in the race.’ I’ve been very outspoken ever since I’ve been in the legislature. With (then state senator, now U.S. Rep.) Marsha Blackburn, we helped kill the income tax in 2002. … I just got overwhelming support from everywhere. There are a lot of issues I want to tackle that I think is wrong with state government. I was against the gas tax (increase). … I knew we needed more roads. I have a problem with the federal government giving our money back and letting us spend less than half of it on roads. I did a resolution this year asking President Trump and Congress to take the mandates off the money they send us. … I thought the gas tax (increase) was disingenuous. You’re going to have to spend a lot of money if you have a long way to go to work. We have a huge surplus … in this year, we’ve got $670 million.”

You’re going to be going up against two potential big self-funders, how does that affect your chances?

“I’ll just say the people of Tennessee are not for sale. Just because a candidate has a lot of money, I think we’ll be able to raise some money. We’re going to do a lot of grassroots (work). We’re getting a later start than them, and yet a poll that was done right before I jumped into the race showed anybody could win this. I think we’ve got a great chance. We’re getting great reaction. We’ve had a wonderful three days up this way if you count Saturday night in Grainger County. We’re getting to know Upper East Tennessee.”

What are you hearing back from people?

“Literally we’ve been from Memphis to Mountain City. We’ve been to Knoxville and Hamilton County and lots of little counties. We’re getting lots of invitations to come and speak. … That just tells me people are looking for a candidate they can support.”

Do you think the Steve Scalise shooting will change anything?

“It got a lot of congressmen wanting to carry (guns) now. If you obtain a gun legally, they do background checks on you when you buy a gun. There should be no reason why we shouldn’t have constitutional carry (both openly and concealed without a permit).”