Black backs Blackburn for U.S. Senate seat

U.S. Rep. Diane Black is endorsing U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn's bid for the U.S. Senate.

Black announced her endorsement in a statement issued Wednesday.

"I've served alongside Marsha in the state legislature and in Congress and have always known her to be a fighter and a passionate champion for conservative causes and I support her 100 percent," said Black, a Gallatin-based Republican who's running for governor.

Blackburn is seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Bob Corker, who is not seeking re-election.

Also seeking the GOP nomination are Dr. Rolando Toyos, Darrell Lynn and Larry Crim. Former Gov. Phil Bredesen is the lone top-tier Democrat in the race.

Black also encouraged her fellow Republican gubernatorial candidates — House Speaker Beth Harwell, Knoxville entrepreneur Randy Boyd and Williamson County businessman Bill Lee — to support Blackburn.

Education PAC endorses nine local candidates

A new political action committee headed by former UnifiEd Executive Director Jonas Barriere has endorsed incumbent Jim Copppinger for mayor and nine candidates for Hamilton County Commission seats, according to a news release.

UnifiEd Action PAC endorsed Randy Fairbanks for District 1; both Republican Chip Baker and Democrat Elizabeth Baker for District 2; Rosabelle Gorman for District 3; Warren Mackey for District 4; Katherlyn Geter for District 5; David Sharpe for District 6; Sabrena Smedley for District 7 and Brent Lambert for District 8.

"We are excited to fight alongside our endorsed candidates while they advocate for the best public school system possible," PAC president Lorie Runge said in a statement. "We strongly believe that these candidates will be champions for the 43,000 students being educated in the Hamilton County Public Schools."

The group vetted candidates through interviews and written responses that tackled a range of topics including school funding, reducing concentrated poverty and expanding early childhood education, according to the release.

The PAC also intends to release candidates for the Hamilton County school board after the April 5 filing deadline.

Governor candidate Boyd highlights education in ad

In a new campaign commercial, Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd highlights his commitment to educating and preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow.

The 30-second ad, "K to J," shows Boyd interacting with students from pre-school to high school and emphasizing the need to be ready to work after graduation.

"We must bring back technical education to our schools and teach job-ready skills so every Tennessean has the opportunity to get the skills they need to get a great job," Boyd says in the ad.

The statewide broadcast and cable TV buy began airing last week and is on YouTube and social media.

Boyd, the former state economic development commissioner under Gov. Bill Haslam, calls himself the architect of Tennessee's Drive to 55 education and workforce development initiative. He helped create the Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect scholarship programs, and founded the non-profit tnAchieves, comprising thousands of volunteer mentors across the state who guide students through the college process, his campaign said in a news release.

The Drive to 55 works to ensure every Tennessean has the opportunity to earn a college degree or technical certificate. The goal is 55 percent holding a credential by 2025.