The weather indicated support for Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd’s gubernatorial bid Thursday as his campaign — which had dodged rainstorms during appearances all morning — stopped in …
The weather indicated support for Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd’s gubernatorial bid Thursday as his campaign — which had dodged rainstorms during appearances all morning — stopped in Cleveland to speak to supporters at Courthouse Square.
Boyd is running for the Republican nomination to be the next governor of Tennessee. He is one of a large field of candidates who are vying for the same job, including U.S. Rep. Diane Black, Mark Brown, Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, Franklin businessman Bill Lee, Realtor Kay White and perennial candidate Basil Marceux. The primary is Tuesday, Aug. 2.
While rain clouds seemingly surrounded the downtown area where the event area was staged, the scattering of raindrops that dissipated just before Boyd’s appearance did nothing to dampen the spirits of the gathering of supporters awaiting his arrival.
Boyd exited his campaign bus accompanied by his wife, Jenny, as well as an entourage of campaign staff and local officials, including Cleveland mayoral candidate Kevin Brooks. Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” played on a sound system as Boyd shook hands with supporters who wore campaign stickers emblazoned with "Randy Boyd–Governor" on their clothing.
Boyd said his visits to Cleveland and Bradley County demonstrate his dedication to helping the area if elected governor, while also noting his goal to help Polk County grow its economy.
“This is my 13th visit to Cleveland, and I’m glad to be back,” Boyd said. "Mike Huckabee told me once that ‘There’s a saying that if you want to see how someone governs, then you need to see how they campaign.’”
The campaign also planned to make stops in Hamilton, Marion and Sequatchie counties later Thursday.
He said his three main campaign objectives are "education, jobs and everyone," highlighting his desire to be all-inclusive when it comes to Tennessee residents.
Boyd touted his participation in forming Tennessee Promise — a program that provides free college tuition to Tennessee students attending community colleges. Knox Achieves inspired Tennessee Promise — a Knox County education initiative Boyd helped found with several city leaders. In addition, Boyd worked with current Gov. Bill Haslam to develop Drive to 55, a program designed to increase the number of Tennesseans with post-secondary degrees to 55 percent by 2025.
In addition, Boyd also described the need to provide technical and vocational training to high school students.
“We need to focus on careers in technical education in high schools,” Boyd said. “We are desperate for welders and people with technical skills. Not everyone is right for college.”
Returning again to his mention of Polk County, Boyd said that the county does not currently have a technical school. Boyd told the Cleveland Daily Banner that he wants to work with technical schools to build satellite campuses across the state to teach high school kids vocational skills that will offer immediate employment.
Maintaining his focus on economic development, Boyd said wants to make Tennessee a magnet for entrepreneurs.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the economy,” Boyd said.
In addition, Boyd said he wanted to make internet broadband access available for all Tennesseans.
Boyd said he started his business career selling products to feed stores. Later, he established a company that sold invisible dog fencing. He said his companies now produce and sell a multitude of pet products, employing up to 700 people
“If I can sell invisible fences, I can sell Tennessee,” Boyd joked.
According to his campaign website, Boyd’s companies include Radio Systems Inc., PetSafe and SportDog, in addition to Invisible Fence.
Boyd said he and his wife, who owns and runs Boyd’s Jig and Reel in Knoxville – a Scottish music and whisky pub, have both been fortunate in their business interests, and now want to give back.
Gesturing toward his wife, Boyd said she is not only an accomplished businesswoman but also a versatile musician who can play the fiddle and mandolin.
“My wife would make a great first lady,” said Boyd, who added that she would work to bring back arts and music to school programs.
They both want to help the state and its residents.
“We are dedicated to giving back the rest of our lives,” Boyd said. “We feel we can do more with public service. But, I can’t do it without your help.”
In a follow-up question emailed to the Boyd campaign late Thursday night, the Banner asked if the weather had cooperated for the remainder of the candidate's campaign tour. The reply: "It rained briefly at our Maryville stop but managed to clear off just in time to welcome a great crowd for barbecue. Luckily, it has largely rained during drive time and paused for events."
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