“This race is going to be a long, hard road,” Beavers, who has multiple opponents in the 2018 GOP primary, told a Greater Kingsport Republican Women’s luncheon. “We’ve got barely under a year to go before the primary. We literally have been from Memphis to Mountain City. … We’re trying to tell people where we stand on the issues. I want you to listen carefully when you listen to the other candidates and see what they talk about.”
Beavers’ main challengers in that GOP primary are expected to be state House Speaker Beth Harwell, U.S. Rep. Diane Black, Knoxville businessman and former state Economic Development Commissioner Randy Boyd and Franklin businessman Bill Lee.
Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, opposed the 2002 move to pass a state income tax and voted against legislation this year to increase the state’s gas tax by 6 cents per gallon over the next three years. She wants to roll back the gas tax hike.
“I see a big difference [in the legislature],” Beavers told the luncheon. “Now that we have a two-thirds majority [in the General Assembly], it seems like a lot of that passion has left. … Opposing the income tax was easy. … It was easy for me because I saw the waste in the budget. … We didn’t have the same enthusiasm this year to kill the gas tax. … I didn’t feel like we needed it. We had a $2 billion surplus this year.”
Beavers sponsored and passed a resolution asking the federal government to “take the strings off” federal highway dollars granted to the states. “I hope President Trump will pay attention to that with all the talk on infrastructure. … I think roads are the most important,” she said of the resolution.
Beavers said she’s concerned about testing going on in state schools because teachers “teach to the test,” and she called for more local control in schools. “I’m one who thinks we ought to do away with the [U.S.] Department of Education in Washington and leave it up to the states,” she said.
She advocated more attention to homeland security, better training for local law enforcement, block grants for states’ Medicaid programs and stronger DUI laws.
Tennessee, she also pointed out, needs more faith-based solutions to get people off drugs, because “these clinics are not helping the situation.”
Beavers said she supports so-called “constitutional carry,” or the legal carrying of a handgun, either openly or concealed, without a license or permit.
“If constitutional carry passes in the House and Senate, I will sign it into law,” she said.
Beavers also made it clear she’s a big Trump supporter.
“He’s trying to make our country better,” she said of Trump.