She sounds as sweet as your grandmother and she's also the most serious candidate in the race. After months of speculation, House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black just announced her bid to become the first female governor of Tennessee.
Why should anyone outside of Tennessee care? Rep. Black provided a blueprint for being a conservative without antagonizing GOP establishment. As head of the Budget Committee, she pushed leadership to use reconciliation for real deficit reduction. At the same time, Black worked to pacify budget hawks who wanted deeper cuts. That record's on trial in Tennessee.
Here are four things to know about that GOP primary set for August 2018:
No one is surprised. Black has flirted with gubernatorial ideas for a while and she finally made it official Wednesday with a folksy 90-second clip. Espousing "absolute truth," that might cut against the values of "Hollywood and D.C.," Black promises that as governor "I won't back down." Watch the clip, here.
Black will rely on her personal story to win over the electorate again. No doubt, she plans on talking up her rise from poverty as a child and her experience as a nurse working graveyard shifts in Tennessee hospitals. That bootstrap story reads like something from a J.D. Vance book and it's familiar to the Tennessee electorate. Of course, some of her opponents plan on painting her as a creature of the Beltway. She's been in Congress for seven years.
The race is crowded, still Black enjoys the most name recognition. She's the seventh Republican candidate to declare and already voters know her best. A Vanderbilt University poll found that 49 percent of voters recognized Black's name, while only 28 percent recognized her closest competitor, GOP state Sen. Mae Beavers.
Black doesn't have much cash on hand. According to the Tennessean, her state campaign committee only has $14,000 available while two of her GOP rivals have already pumped close to $3.4 million of their own dollars into the race. That shouldn't be a problem for Black though. One of the richest members of Congress, she's reportedly worth nearly $150 million and could easily self-fund a campaign.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.