That is the question Park Overall, an environmental advocate from East Tennessee, said drove her to declare her candidacy against incumbent Senator Bob Corker. From the Tennessean:
Overall, who spoke at the Tennessee Democratic Party’s Jackson Day dinner on Saturday, was “very well received” there and decided to take on Corker, who is nearing the end of his first Senate term, party spokesman Brandon Puttbrese said.There was not perhaps a groundswell to challenge Corker, Overall also told the Greeneville Sun, "Somebody had to do it and if nobody else will do it, I will do it."
Overall said she was driven to run by “an East Tennessee fire in my belly.”
“It was the Blunt amendment that put me over the top,” she said. “That’s where they were going to decide if they would give me medical care or give me birth control depending on how they morally believed.”
The Blunt amendment was proposed earlier this year to be added to a highway funding bill. In her speech at the Jackson Day dinner, Overall asked, “Why is my womb attached to a transportation bill?”
"The problem with the Democrats is we're honest, we're kind, and we're all-inclusive," she told the crowd. "If you're a really conservative person, you do not want to vote for me because I'm for transgenders, I'm for gay marriage, I'm for (the) poor, I'm for black(s), I'm for Asian(s), I'm for the disenfranchised, and my household always was."If the name is ringing a bell to you, that may be because Overall co-starred in the Golden Girls spin-off sitcom Empty Nest from 1988-95. Overall was something of a break-out character as a sassy, smart-aleck nurse LaVerne Todd.
Will Tennessee react favorably to a Bullworth candidate? Who knows? Straight talk can poll well, even if folks disagree with what is being said, and high name recognition never hurt a candidate. Knoxnews and Tennessean are not totally discounting her candidacy and party leaders say Overall has local respect due to her work preserving TN's environment and on behalf of veterans. Overall disdains corporations and is reaching out to unions.
Sounds like this race may at least put to the test the "true progressive" vs. "Republican Lite™" schools of thought for competing in red states. We'll see how her returns stack up to blue dog Harold Ford's 2006 returns. If there is a critical mass of people in TN that have had enough GOP nonsense, she may be a good conduit to fire them up.
In any event, it should be an entertaining race.
If there was ever a better time to send a, straight-talking, unapologetic, progressive woman to the Senate—or a better impetus—I can't imagine it. So I say (respectfully) "You go girl!"
Update: Here's Park at the Tennessee Democratic Party’s Jackson Day dinner on Saturday, referenced above.
Thoughts: any attempt to paint her as a carpet-bagging Hollywood liberal elite appear to be doomed to failure.
Thanks to Scarce for posting it below in the comments.
Update 2: Ok, I wasn't going to watch the entire 18 minutes. But then I got sucked in and the time flew. This woman is fierce and fabulous. She's hilarious and she's simultaneously earthy and smart. I honestly can't believe she's a candidate in Tennessee. Good luck to her.