State Rep. Gloria Johnson (Knoxville-D)

By Megan Moriarty

NASHVILLE, TN — State Representative Gloria Johnson joined hundreds of Tennesseans in Nashville’s Centennial Park to officially announce her bid for the United States Senate. With the Woman Suffrage Monument as the backdrop, Johnson spoke to the crowd.

“It just means everything to me that so many of you showed up,” Johnson said, pointing out that they picked the spot for a specific reason. 

“We’ve got to talk about women’s rights. We’ve got to talk about the fact that in Tennessee women are no longer equal,” Johnson said. “Marsha Blackburn wants to see a federal ban on abortion yet she’s talking about Freedom. Freedom for who? Not us.”

Johnson said Tennessee has a senator in Blackburn who doesn’t stand with women. “Ever,” she said. “[She] votes against the Violence Against Women’s Act. Votes against equal pay. Votes against women – constantly. Tennessee deserves better.”

Johnson has visited 20 rural counties and said Tennessee working families need someone who will fight for them.

“The senator who I’m running against didn’t support infrastructure for Tennessee,” Johnson said. “Most importantly, we’ve got to listen because people are hurting and … no one’s listening. … I plan to listen. I plan to have Town Halls regularly. I’m not afraid of my opposition and answering their questions.” 

Many of Johnson’s legislative colleagues were in attendance including fellow ‘Tennessee Three’ member state Rep. Justin Jones, who introduced her.

“I am so excited to stand here with my dear sister, my best friend in the legislature and a … fighter for freedom in this state – for all people,” Jones said. “And we know that she will be a fighter for everyday people in the US Senate.” Jones continued, “We know that there are those who are occupying seats now who stand for the powerful as opposed to the poor. There are those who stand for special interests as opposed to the interest of everyday Tennesseans. And today we send a clear message to all of them. … Goodbye.”

Campaign Co-Chair and State Sen. Charlane Oliver, D-Nashville, said Tennesseans need people who are willing to put it all on the line.

“Gloria Johnson has showed time and time again that she is willing to fight for us,” Oliver said. “We need people who are going to fight for Tennesseans not for corporations, not for the gun lobby but for us.”

Singer song-writer Will Hoge agreed. “I was born and raised here and it’s really disgusting to me how little representation all of the people of Tennessee have,” Hoge said. “The only solution is to elect folks like Gloria.” Hoge acknowledged it could be a tough fight with Blackburn’s financial backings. “But I think the moral majority is on our side,” he said.

Metro Nashville Council At-Large member Zulfat Suara was on hand as well. “I’ve known Gloria for a number of years. She’s always been a fighter. … She always stands tall and does the right thing,” Suara said. 

Vanderbilt University Senior and Gun Control Activist Katey Parham is also throwing her support to Johnson. “I want a senator that will stand up for all people of Tennessee and will help me be safe in my school,” she said. 

“Right now we already see [the opposition] resorting to … attacks because they can’t even find policy to debate. They’re not working for the people. They’re actively working against so I’m so excited to vote for Gloria.”

Johnson survived a state house expulsion vote in March, following a peaceful gun control demonstration in the wake of Nashville’s Covenant School shooting. She joins Reps. Jones and Justin Pearson as members of the ‘Tennessee Three.’