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VOL. 132 | NO. 149 | Friday, July 28, 2017

Boyd Says Luttrell Endorsement is ‘Partnership’

By Bill Dries

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Republican contender for Tennessee governor Randy Boyd says his endorsement this week by Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell is more like a partnership.

“It’s not just an endorsement. It’s a partnership,” Boyd said Wednesday, July 26, in East Memphis, adding he and Luttrell will be traveling West Tennessee to build support on the way to the August 2018 statewide primary election.

The endorsement comes two weeks after state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville, who had been considering a bid in the Republican primary for governor, was effectively taken out of the race when President Donald Trump nominated him to be a federal judge.

Norris is awaiting Senate confirmation. And Luttrell said Norris’ nomination and exit from the race was a factor in his decision to endorse Boyd.

Republican contender for Tennessee governor Randy Boyd got the endorsement of Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell this week during a stop in Memphis. (Daily News/Bill Dries)

Boyd had already been rounding up some support in Shelby County, where the Republican suburban base is considering essential in any statewide campaign, even as Norris remained a likely contender.

The Republican field also includes Franklin businessman Bill Lee, state House speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville and state Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet. U.S Rep. Diane Black of Gallatin is considering the race.

Former Nashville mayor Karl Dean is running in the Democratic primary, and state Rep. Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley is considering the race.

As the U.S. Senate continued to debate and vote on various health care insurance alternatives to the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, Boyd said he favors federal Medicaid block grants to states with per capita limits. That would mean guaranteed coverage for certain groups that would be capped per enrollee.

“I believe if Tennesseans can make decisions for Tennesseans, we’re going to be better off,” he said.

Boyd also sounded a theme he is certain to make repeatedly starting next month as he makes a 100-day run from Bristol to Memphis, covering 537.3 miles in a linear path across the state.

“We have to take responsibility for our health. Everybody can do something,” he said Wednesday. “Next time you go to the doctor for any type of procedure, ask what the price is. Ask how much it costs. … Imagine a marketplace in which consumers never ask the price of the product and the people who sell it don’t know what they charge.”

Boyd runs 6 to 10 miles a day at the start of his day.

“It’s my way to relax,” he said during a stop in the city this past June. “I compose myself every day.”

His run begins one year to the day before the Republican primary for governor. It also comes nearly 40 years after Lamar Alexander’s walk across the state in the 1978 campaign for Tennessee governor.

Luttrell’s endorsement comes relatively early. Although the primary is just about a year away, endorsements are used strategically and in some campaigns massed closer to election day or early voting to build momentum for a campaign.

“It’s another voice that can speak for the candidacy of the person we are endorsing,” Luttrell said. “It’s a different voice.”

Luttrell is serving his second and final term as Shelby County mayor and served two terms as Shelby County sheriff before that. His campaign stops with Boyd in rural West Tennessee will come just a year after Luttrell campaigned in the region in the GOP primary for the 8th Congressional District. He was part of a pack of 13 candidates in the primary won by former U.S. Attorney David Kustoff. Kustoff went on to win the general election and claim the open U.S. House seat after incumbent Republican Stephen Fincher opted not to run for re-election.

Luttrell cited Boyd’s business background in Knoxville before becoming the state Economic and Community Development commissioner under Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration.

“I’m not one of those that believes that government should be run as a business. Government is not a business,” Luttrell said. “Government is something uniquely different from business. Yet, it’s always good if you can find those principles of business that can be applied to government efficiency.”

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