Tennessee Governor Candidate Interviews: Craig Fitzhugh On Appealing To A Red State

Jul 16, 2018
Originally published on July 16, 2018 8:20 am

Democrat Craig Fitzhugh has been a prominent figure in Tennessee politics for more than two decades, but the state has changed around him quite a bit. When he started as a state representative, he was in the majority. Now, he's running for governor in a state that votes overwhelmingly Republican.

He spoke with WPLN's Emily Siner about his uphill climb in our studio last week. And in the latest edition of The Tri-Star State, Emily and her colleague Jason Moon Wilkins talk about that interview. 

Listen to the audio above, or scroll down to see interview highlights. We'll have interviews with all of the gubernatorial candidates in the coming days, and you can find more information about where the candidates stand on various issues at wpln.org/nextgovernor.

Interview Highlights

On the challenges of running in a statewide race:

"I've been used to running in three counties [the 82nd Tennessee House district] and now I'm running in 95 — so there's a lot of difference. You know, instead of buying a few hundred signs I'm buying multiples of a thousand signs."

On attracting Republican voters:

"I think I have a little appeal because my background is in rural areas — I've lived in rural West Tennessee all my life. ... So I think I can reach across those party lines."

On his desire to push for Medicaid expansion as governor:

"Well, I don't think there are really any true reasons why we're not doing it now. [The opposition] started off frankly because of its connection with Obamacare. But Obamacare is is here to stay — at least the Medicaid-expanded part of it.

"I think we're closer together than we think. And I think one more class, so to speak, one more election and some new folks coming in hearing from the public — I'm confident that once we talk about it, take the politics out of it, that we can we can expand Medicaid. ... It's adequate and affordable health care. You know, that's really the best way to say it. People like that when you talk about that. They understand that, and then it does take the politics out."

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