Aug 8 2014
11:43 am

Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Gordon Ball emailed media a copy of his victory speech. Here it is:

Good evening. Thank you for coming. And thank you to all of the Tennesseans who voted in this hard-fought election. This is what being a citizen of our country is all about. And I want to especially thank everyone who helped us get here tonight, from Mountain City to Memphis, and of course, right here in our great state’s capitol.

It’s a credit to this great country we live in that someone who grew up in a one bedroom house-trailer – as the son of a moonshiner who understood the value of an education because he never had one, yet wanted a better life for his son – could be standing before you today as the nominee of the Democratic Party for one of the highest offices in our land.


As a boy, I grew up on the Pigeon River and saw the world from a child’s eyes: Newport was the big city and I didn’t know until I grew up that a river wasn’t supposed to stink and be filthy and black. But like everyone in this room, I learned a lot as I got older. And the public education I received at that time is why I can stand here tonight and have this opportunity to tell you my story. It’s why you’ll never have a stronger proponent of public education. To me, education is the key to jobs, to income, and to human dignity. We must do whatever is necessary to ensure that every child in Tennessee learns to the full extent of his capabilities.

Unlike Lamar Alexander, I worked my way through college, delivering pizzas in Johnson City, and I worked my way through law school loading trucks at night on Florida Street in Memphis. Like most students, I had student loans and paid at the rate of $69.97 a month.

Since 1975, I’ve made my career by solving problems for people in Tennessee and all across the country. I’ve spent most of my career fighting for ordinary people – the kind of people I grew up with – against big corporations. I’ve stood with Tennessee families against polluters, price-fixers, monopolists, and defective products manufacturers, and for people who had no one else to represent them.

So, I’m very much used to playing David against Goliath. And it’s a role I relish. I’d like to carry on that fight and take that experience to Washington, where big corporations and their lobbyists – the same corporations and lobbyists who support Lamar Alexander – make a living on the backs of ordinary people.

As a lawyer, I never have a choice to represent “Democrat” clients or “Republican” clients. I represent Americans – Democrats, independents and Republicans alike. As a United States Senator, I will do the same and proudly serve every Tennessee citizen’s interests.

While Senator Alexander has been a public employee for five decades, catering to lobbyists, and becoming a wealthy politician – I’ve been building a record in the real world where it counts. It is because of this experience that I can say that I will be ready on DAY ONE after being sworn-in to debate and vote on tough, complex issues as a United States Senator. My life’s work has prepared me for this.

Why do I think I can do better than Lamar Alexander? I’m a moderate, Ned McWherter, Phil Bredesen, style pro-business Democrat who cares about ordinary Tennesseans – families from Mountain City, to Milan, to Lewisburg, to Morristown, to Memphis. These are the people – small businesses and working families – that Senator Alexander has forgotten about in his 40 years of government employment.

It’s been 36-years since Lamar Alexander walked across this state. He’s out of touch with Tennessee. A gallon of gas is no longer 59 cents and a gallon of milk is no longer $1.70. If he made that walk again in 2014, he would see a very different Tennessee, a Tennessee that he has left behind.

Lamar Alexander and I see two very different Tennessees:

Lamar Alexander believes the Tennessee legislature should make health decisions for our wives, our sisters, and our daughters. I believe a woman and her doctor, with considerations to her faith, should make those decisions. I’ll vote “no” on Amendment One. Senator Alexander will vote “yes.”

No one who has a job should live in poverty. Lamar Alexander consistently votes against raising the minimum wage $2 an hour while accepting a $2800 annual raise. It’s just plain wrong and we have a moral responsibility to lift those families up.

And tonight, as we celebrate our win, somewhere in Tennessee, there’s a young single mother sitting on the side of her bed. She’s one of the 117,000 in Tennessee who earn $7.25. She’s working hard, but she knows she can’t pay rent and utilities, daycare, insurance, gas money, and buy food and medicine for her kids. Senators Alexander and Corker would add 12 cents to every single gallon of gas she buys to pay for improvements to our infrastructure, costing $250 more a year.

That’s also unacceptable.

We need to do something for that family. We need to give that single mother and her children hope. And we’re going to do it by raising the minimum wage to a living wage of $10.10 and making sure that everyone gets equal pay for equal work. And Senators Alexander and Corker, we can re-prioritize money spent by the US in the Middle East to “improve our infrastructure” – without adding to the price paid by Tennessee families for a tank of gas.
I believe that we shouldn’t have two different Tennessees: one for the privileged few who are set for life; and one for most Tennesseans who live paycheck-to-paycheck. If you’re like most Tennesseans and something goes wrong, a child that gets sick, or you get laid off – then the first thing that disappears is not only your dreams, but the dreams for a better life for your children.

That’s unacceptable. And raising the minimum wage will help Tennessee families.

Lamar Alexander routinely votes to cut veterans benefits. I believe our veterans are our most cherished citizens and promises made to them must always be honored. My father was a veteran of World War II, serving on a troop ship that was to be part of the invasion of Japan before the atomic bombs were dropped in August 1945. My brother, although a veteran, was denied benefits because his disease was deemed to be non-service related. He died in a private nursing home. Veterans deserve better.

Let me tell you, when I’m your Senator, our veterans in this state will not have to wonder whether they’ll be well-cared for next week or next year. We’re going to take good care of them because they’ve always taken good care of us.

Lamar Alexander’s Tennessee is also one for which he votes to deny women equal pay for equal work. This is the 21st century. How can a United States Senator be against basic and fundamental fairness to women workers?

Lamar Alexander also voted against giving relief to students with high-interest student loans even though he voted to bail-out Wall Street. If we can bail out Wall Street banks, why can’t we bail out kids?

To me, a public education is a civil right, guaranteed to every American child. We all know that a college degree is important. After all, someone with a college degree will earn over $570,000 more over a lifetime compared with those with just a high school diploma. And the cost of college has skyrocketed. In the past 30 years, average tuition for four-year, public colleges has increased by over 250%. Because students are bearing a much larger proportion of their college costs, they’re borrowing more. That’s why I support strong and decisive action by Congress to keep student loan interest rates low and to assist students facing substantial financial hardship deal with college debt by allowing the government to re-finance their loans.

Lamar opposes the expansion of Medicaid in Tennessee. I strongly favor expanding Medicaid in Tennessee. And I’m very concerned, as are most people who live in rural Tennessee, that rural hospitals are closing. In fact, Tennessee has already lost over $1.3 billion dollars in federal funding while rural hospitals are closing. It makes no economic sense. Ask the people of Haywood County, Tennessee, whose hospital just closed.

Tennessee taxpayers are paying for the expansion of Medicaid, but they are not receiving the benefits. I think it is deplorable – and a breach of public trust – for Tennessee politicians to block the door to healthcare to more than 160,000 Tennesseans who are too poor to buy health insurance on the exchange, but who would be eligible for coverage under Medicaid expansion.

Senator Alexander once said, “Two terms, and done.” Now, he’s running to serve a third term in the United States Senate. I favor setting term limits for members of Congress. Senator Alexander, come November, Tennesseans aren’t going to let you break your promise to spend only two terms in Washington. It’s time for you to go.

We all know what’s ahead of us between now and November. We’ll face millions in lobbyist and PAC money because Senator Alexander is going to try to buy his way back to Washington, D.C. He’ll make this campaign be about anything but his failed record.

Senator Alexander, we need to give Tennesseans a campaign they can be proud of. I challenge you to debate me one-on-one on the issues that are important to this campaign. Let’s appear together in Johnson City, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville, Jackson, and Memphis. You make your case for your vision of Tennessee’s future and I’ll make mine.

Not only do Senator Alexander and I see two very different Tennessees, but in November, Tennesseans will also get to choose between two very different visions for our state: our vision looks ahead to where we should be and where we rightly deserve to be. Senator Alexander’s vision looks toward the rear-view mirror and a red-plaid shirt; it’s a vision planted firmly in the past. It’s a clear choice to all Tennesseans and we’re going to make it even more clear over the next 89 days of this campaign for Tennessee’s future.

I believe that a society as blessed as ours – the most affluent democracy in the world’s history. Should be able to help veterans, to help the poor in their struggle to survive, and to help the middle class in their fight to make their children’s lives better than their own, to find work for all who can do it, room at the table, shelter for the homeless, care for the elderly and disabled, and hope for the destitute. We will do these things because we as Tennesseans have common sense economic and social values.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

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    To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding. (Source)

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