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Pro-Life Pocketbooks Speak Louder Than Words

If you vote Republican, then you’ve probably noticed that no Republican runs for office in Tennessee who is not pro-life. So, how might a voter in a Republican primary know which Republicans are pro-life in word or deed? Here are some thoughts when it comes to the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Last week I urged readers to be wary of endorsements by political candidates, particularly those from outside the state, and provided links for those who wanted to verify the veracity of what I said. But what about PAC endorsements?

The Value of PAC Endorsements

Unlike endorsements by politicians, organizations with PACs generally only support those who are true to their particular cause. The candidate an organization endorses may be horrible on every other issue you care about, but that organization believes the candidate to be strong on its issues.

The Shortcoming of PAC Endorsements

One shortcoming with a PAC is it tends to favor an incumbent who has a strong voting record on that PAC’s issues over political newcomers. Newcomers may prove to be good to their word, too, but a “tie” almost always goes to the office holder whose word has been backed up with a strong voting record.

There is a good reason for this. Many newcomers who talk strong on the campaign trail wilt under the spotlight when it’s time to vote on a bill. I’ve seen it so many times.

How That Applies to the Governor’s Race

When it comes to the Republican primary for governor, National Right to Life and Tennessee Right to Life have both endorsed Diane Black. What does that mean if you’re a pro-life voter?

Given my 17-year working relationship with Tennessee Right to Life on the pro-life amendment on Tennessee’s ballot back in 2014 (Senate Joint Resolution 127 that became Amendment 1), its endorsement doesn’t just mean that it believes Diane will do the right thing on pro-life legislation and administrative policies if push comes to shove; it means Diane will be in the foxhole with them when the abortionists start shooting.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Randy Boyd, Beth Harwell, or Bill Lee are not pro-life or that they would not be strong when pro-life legislation is under consideration, but except for Harwell, Lee and Boyd have no track record upon which an endorsement over someone like Diane could be made.

Is there, then, any additional way to evaluate the seriousness of the pro-life claims of Black, Boyd, Harwell, and Lee? Yes.

Show Me the Money

There’s an old saying, “Put your money where your mouth is” and, so, I took the time to review all the financial reports showing contributions in support of the biggest pro-life political issue and campaign in the history of our state—Amendment 1—to see who among the gubernatorial candidates put their money where their pro-life mouths are.

Now, I am mindful of the “widow’s mite,” and I appreciate that a $100 contribution to the Amendment 1 ballot measure campaign may be more sacrificial for some people than $50,000 from another. But when I consider that Randy Boyd and Beth Harwell have so far put over $10 million and $3 million, respectively, in personal funds into their campaigns to be governor, I find it interesting that their names don’t show up on any of those contribution reports. Not one time; not one personal dollar.

Perhaps Boyd didn’t know about the largest pro-life issue and campaign in the history of our state, but that shows a significant level of disconnectedness from the pro-life cause he professes, if you ask me, particularly considering he lives in Knoxville, which has one of the strongest and most active Right to Life chapters in the state. That chapter was extremely active in the push for Amendment 1.

Beth Harwell’s PAC did give $1,000 on October 28, 2013. The Harwell PAC is funded by some individuals, but mostly lobbyists and their PACs, not Harwell personally. The balance in the Harwell PAC at the time of her $1,000 contribution was more than $560,000. Thankfully, the amount given to Amendment 1 was greater than the $873 she spent from her PAC on “flowers/gifts” during that same reporting period.

Oh, it’s the same PAC from which Harwell spent $175,000 back in February bolstering her name recognition for her gubernatorial campaign by touting her service as Speaker.

As to Bill Lee, his company did contribute $1,000, and he personally contributed another $10,000.

Diane Black made a personal contribution of $250,000.

Hopefully, pro-life Republicans now have more information by which to judge the pro-life bona fides of Republican candidates running for governor.


David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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