Black launches latest broadside in Tennessee governor's race

Friday, October 27, 2017, Vol. 41, No. 43

NASHVILLE (AP) — U.S. Rep. Diane Black's gubernatorial campaign is taking aim at Republican rival Randy Boyd, launching a broadside Tuesday at the former member of Gov. Bill Haslam's Cabinet for everything from his running attire to what the congresswoman decries as his moderate record.

It's the latest attack by Black in what has otherwise been a largely sleepy gubernatorial race — a contest that has been pushed even further out of the public eye by the suddenly lively campaign to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Bob Corker.

Boyd, a Knoxville entrepreneur and former state commissioner of economic and community development, has been running across the state to promote his candidacy and is one week from completing his Bristol-to-Memphis trek.

Black has had a lower profile on the campaign trail so far because of her responsibilities as chair of the House Budget Committee in Washington. Other Republican candidates include former state Sen. Mae Beavers, state House Speaker Beth Harwell and businessman Bill Lee.

A Middle Tennessee State University poll released Tuesday indicates that none of the candidates has yet managed to separate from the pack. Among all 600 voters surveyed, Harwell had 23 percent approval rating, compared with 22 percent for Black, 17 percent for Boyd, 15 percent for Beavers and 10 percent for Lee.

The survey found Black to be the candidate with the highest disapproval rating with 31 percent, compared with 22 percent for Beavers, 20 percent for Harwell and 17 percent for Boyd.

Among Democratic candidates, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean had a 23 percent positive and 26 percent negative rating, while state House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh had a 10 percent approval and 15 percent disapproval rating. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The Black campaign in its release took issue with what it calls Boyd's failure to support Donald Trump before he became the Republican presidential nominee, his $250,000 donation to a group that works with immigrants regardless of their visa status, his past support of Common Core education standards and for a campaign donation to a Democratic member of the state Supreme Court running in a nonpartisan race.

"With a conservative record almost as short as his shorts, it's no surprise Randy Boyd is trying to run from his record," said Black spokesman Chris Hartline. "He'll have to run further West than Memphis to hide the truth from Tennesseans."

Black previously criticized Boyd for holding a fundraiser with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination last year.

The Boyd campaign did not immediately respond a request for comment about Black's latest attacks, but was dismissive earlier this month of her criticisms of the Bush fundraiser.

"Each of those claims is ridiculous and false, and honestly beneath the dignity of Diane Black," Boyd spokeswoman Laine Arnold told the Chattanooga Times Free Press . "This is Tennessee. Not DC. We don't act that way down here."