By BAILEY BASHAM
Newly-elected U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn’s victory speech was marked by a commitment to make good on the promises she made during her campaign.
“Tennesseans want to make sure they have leaders that are not going to kick a can down the road on issues that affect our nation and our children. They want leaders who are going to tackle the big problems. They want leaders who are going to be there to work with the president and keep this nation on the path of prosperity that we are on today. I want you to know that I am going to be one of those leaders,” she said.
Williamson County resident Lee Greenwood took to the stage at 8:30 to sing his 1985 song God Bless the USA. He ended the performance with, Let’s Make America Great Again.
“We are so proud of our new senator. America first — I believed that since I came here in ‘79, and I’ll be leaving here tonight believing that. I could not miss this opportunity to come sing this song for you about America and our great state of Tennessee,” Greenwood said.
After performances by John Rich, Larry Gatlin and Gretchen Wilson, Blackburn was welcomed by speaker of the house Beth Harwell at 9 p.m. on the dot. She was greeted with chants of “Marsha! Marsha! Marsha!” from the crowd.
“I think the entire country has heard Tennessee loud and clear. Tennesseans want a conservative us senator who is going to take Tennessee values … to Washington D.C.,” she said.
Blackburn stood before a room of hundreds and thanked her supporters for the victory.
“I know you want to keep this country moving on the right track, and I am so incredibly grateful for all of you who have stood with us, who have stayed strong, who have worked on getting out to vote. We appreciate everything you have done. Thank you so very much. We could not have done this without all of you.”
After more than 15 years in politics, Blackburn said no one would have to worry about whether to call her congressman or congresswoman Blackburn — senator would work for now.
“I want to say thank you to the voters of Tennessee for believing in me and for hearing our message and for giving me your vote and for allowing me to be the first woman ever [to occupy Tennessee’s senate seat],” she said.
Blackburn closed with well-wishes to her opponent, Democrat Phil Bredesen.
“To Phil and his team, I want to congratulate them on a hard-fought race, and I hope they know that my door is always open. To their supporters, I hope that they will work with us on better tomorrows for our children and grandchildren,” she said.
Singer John Rich went into Rocky Top as soon as Blackburn left the stage. In the middle of a “Save the horse, ride the cowboy” performance, he said “when I say Marsha, you say Blackburn,” and he got A LOT of “Blackburns” back in response.