Marsha's warning: If Senate flips to Democrats, GOP chairs are out

Hank Hayes • Aug 29, 2018 at 11:25 AM

KINGSPORT — Tennessee GOP U.S. Senate nominee Marsha Blackburn insisted Tuesday she is the pro-business candidate and warned that if Democratic opponent Phil Bredesen wins, key Republican committee chairs could lose their jobs.

She pointed to her U.S. Chamber endorsement while telling a Kingsport Chamber roundtable that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has put their November general election battle on a national stage.

“Phil Bredesen is his number one recruit,” Blackburn, now a Middle Tennessee congressman, said. “They are going to spend millions of dollars if necessary. Chuck Schumer has said his path to the majority runs through Tennessee. He wants to be majority leader, but Tennesseans are not going to allow that to happen. They know that if you change leadership in the Senate … that would change all the committee chairmen.”

Blackburn charged Bredesen would support Schumer’s pick of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to chair the Judiciary CommitteeSen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to chair the Finance Committee, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to chair the Budget Committee and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., to chair the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

“That’s not what Tennesseans want,” Blackburn stressed. “Sen. (Lamar) Alexander (R-Tenn.) chairs Senate Health. … It changes the agenda of the Senate.”

Blackburn also addressed these questions:

How will the new tax law affect charitable contributions?

“I think we’re going to hold the status quo. … The president fully appreciates and our colleagues fully appreciate the not-for-profit world really fills a void in our community. … You look at our churches and charitable deductions are so important there. … I expect you’re not going to see a reduction in the vitality that is there. We want to keep those deductions.”

China doesn’t play fair. What’s your position?

“It is Russia, Iran, China, North Korea. … I think you have to look at those four together. … People who are entertainers, one of the things they face is China ripping them off. They take their intellectual property. … They’ve had a trade war on us for decades. We know the president is trying to deal with that … don’t agree with the tariffs approach.”

What keeps you up at night?

“I think we all want job securities, economic securities. … We want economic opportunities for our kids. We want our nation to be safe. That’s why border security is such an enormous issue. I hear about the impact of gangs. Week before last in Nashville, there were three MS 13 members indicted in one week. … Two were for murder, and one was for cocaine trafficking.”

Phil Bredesen is attacking your opioid record and you getting more than $800,000 in campaign contributions from drug companies. What’s your response to that?

“I think that is just ridiculous. Everybody knows this is an issue I have worked on for a very long time … and have put so much time and attention at the state level and federal level that ‘will you end this scourge?’ … When you sit with your friends and cry with your friends from anguish about what has happened … it is something you want to make certain you put every effort you have into this.”

Trump alignment did not work out for (unsuccessful GOP gubernatorial candidates) Diane Black and Randy Boyd. Why do you think it will work out for you?

“I think people look at my record, what I’ve done, my record of service … leading the fight against the state income tax and thousands of Tennesseans joining me in that fight … mayors and sheriffs are endorsing me. Tennesseans support President Trump because of his agenda. They want to see this agenda finished. … They want more tax cuts. They want health care freed up. They want to make certain that the border is secure and that we address the issues of sanctuary cities … and stop the drug trafficking.”