2022 Democratic Candidate for Governor Visits DeKalb County

By: Dwayne Page

Jason Martin, a Nashville physician and vocal critic of the state government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, officially launched his bid last month for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2022, with hopes of taking on Republican Gov. Bill Lee next year.

Dr. Martin was in Smithville last week as part of his 95 county listening tour across the state. He met with local party leaders and others at Green Brook Park. He currently serves as Director of Hendersonville Medical Center’s critical care unit.

“We are excited to go around Tennessee to mainly listen. We want to hear what is on people’s hearts and minds and see what we can do to make Tennessee a better place,” Martin told WJLE.

Entering the race with no prior government experience, the 46 year old Martin – a self-proclaimed “authentic outsider” said he will run on a platform of affordable health care, fully-funded public education and job creation.

“I have never been a super political guy in the past. I have been an ICU or critical care doctor but over the last 18 months I have seen so much death and destruction due to COVID. I have been a first party witness to holding up an Ipad while moms and dads, brothers, and sisters cry at that screen watching their loved ones take that last breath remotely. That has been a life changing experience. I realize if there had been some politically courageous leadership I think we could have been in a better position. I think our schools would be open safely and I think fewer people would have passed way from this virus. That was my call to action. We could use some better leadership when it comes to health care more generally and when it comes to funding our education system. That’s why I am excited to be in the race,” said Dr. Martin.

Originally from Alabama, Dr. Martin said the place where he grew up is much like rural Tennessee.

“I grew up in Mobile Alabama. It was a pretty rural community much like the rural communities in Tennessee. I had hard working parents. When I was in college I would call my dad and complain about having to study hard for a test and he would say “son try it with two kids and a mortgage”. He was a hard working man. He and his brother were the first ones in our family to go to college so I was real proud of that. Because of my parents’ sacrifices and good public schools in our community my family was able to change the track of our family trajectory in just a generation so I was able to go to med school and college and eventually end up here in Nashville for my medical training about 20 years ago,” Dr. Martin continued.

Asked how he would have handled the COVID pandemic as governor particularly in the public school system , Martin said “if we want our teachers and kids to go to school safely, I think a temporary mask requirement is important. I don’t like masks and I don’t like requirements but I think to protect the health and safety of those in the public schools that’s a good place to start. We need to speak the truth about the effectiveness of the vaccine and we need to speak the truth when people say misinformation. Right now the voice of truth is missing. We need to improve the health care of the folks in Tennessee so they can be healthy and go out and work hard and provide for their families and that means not giving up on the billion dollars a year we are passing up on Medicaid expansion. If you want people out there working hard they need to be healthy. One in five Tennessee counties don’t even have an emergency room and there have been 14 hospitals primarily in rural Tennessee that have closed since 2012. We need to get more money into the system so that folks don’t have to drive two or three counties away if they have a medical emergency. That’s why we need Medicaid expansion. That means hard working Tennesseans can have affordable insurance. That brings more money into the system so that more healthcare providers can set up shop,” Dr. Martin said,

“We also need to fully fund our public schools. We are 47th in the nation when it comes to funding our public education system. I think we can do better than that. We have billions of dollars in our rainy day fund in Nashville. I think we can do a lot better to support our teachers. If 2 or 4 year college isn’t right for every child out of high school then let’s have some good vocational training programs so we can give kids a skill . I think we could do that with some money we already have on hand and with public and private partnerships,” he added.

Although the odds may be stacked against him and other Democrats in a heavily Republican state where the GOP has firm control of the state Senate, House and the governor’s office. Martin said he is still hopeful.

“All of us have to learn to play nicely together and stop talking about politics as a team sport because when we do everybody loses. We need to identify the things that we have in common and I happen to think that adequate access to health care for hard working folks , a good education, and a good job are Tennessee values and not Republican or Democratic values. I do think people will rally around those ideas,” said Dr. Martin.

Full article here