Martin announces Democratic bid for governor

Physician Jason Martin is seeking the Democratic nomination for Tennessee governor. The Nashville pulmonary critical care specialist has been an outspoken critic of Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s COVID-19 policies.

UPDATE: Martin says he has raised $100,000 since forming his exploratory committee. Greeneville minister Casey Nicholson has also also made his Democratic bid official, per Stephen Elliott a the Nashville Scene. A third Democrat expressing plans to run is Carnita Atwater of Memphis.

See Martin’s fundraising email sent out Monday morning:

I’m Dr. Jason Martin, a father, husband, doctor, business owner, and advocate for Tennesseans.

Some of you have met me personally in the halls or waiting rooms of hospitals as I have cared for you or your loved ones in my ICUs. Some of you have probably seen me on your nightly news urging our elected officials to take the necessary steps to save lives in Tennessee. Some of you are my family, friends, and neighbors. And some of you may not know me at all!

I’m reaching out to you today to announce not my but our campaign for Governor, because now is the time for a leader in Tennessee to stop the division and start working to meet all of our needs. And yes, I said our campaign, because unlike most politicians, this campaign is not about my personal fame or popularity — our campaign is a collective movement for the people of Tennessee to reclaim what is ours.

I’m running for Governor of Tennessee because I want to help create a state that puts people first regardless of where they’re from, what they look like, or how they were raised. Will you join me on this journey by adding your name in support of our campaign today?

I have been in middle Tennessee for twenty years now, but I was raised in Southern Alabama in a place much like many of our communities in Tennessee. We had the same sweltering summers, spent on front porches, laughing with family, and swatting mosquitoes.

And just like many families in Tennessee, my family raised me through values rooted in hard work, faith, and community. My parents and step-parents worked long hours to give me every opportunity they were never afforded. And while they labored, my many aunts, uncles, and grandparents stepped in to raise me. Because of their sacrifices, we were able to change the story of our family in a single generation. Their hard work afforded me the opportunity to attend the best public schools and earn scholarships to propel me all the way to and through medical school at Vanderbilt University.

From there, I went on to serve those who served our country at Nashville Veteran Affairs Medical Center, train new healthcare professionals at Meharry Medical College, and treat ICU patients at Nashville General Hospital and now Sumner Regional Medical Center.

My experience as a doctor in cities and rural communities has made it abundantly clear to me that Tennessee’s health care system is incompetent, our economy isn’t supporting people to afford their families’ needs, and Governor Bill Lee is failing our students.

And then came the COVID-19 pandemic, throughout which Governor Lee has continued to abandon Tennesseans, fail to rise to the occasion, and refuse to meet the moment. Rather than leading with policies to keep children in schools, businesses open, and families safe, Lee went on a fringe extreme rampage, firing top COVID officials, eliminating the power for local school boards to protect their vulnerable students by requiring masks, and lying about the protections needed against the virus.

Before the pandemic and unfortunately during the pandemic, our leaders have sown division through culture wars and social issues to distract from the fact they have abandoned us.

As a critical care physician, I took an oath to “do no harm.” Right now, there are too many politicians out there like Governor Lee doing more harm than good for the people of Tennessee, and I’m running to change that.

Tennessee once had a reputation for our hospitality, volunteerism, and how we cared for our neighbors. However, for more than a decade now, our corrupt leaders have worked to divide us so that we abandon our values. That ends today with our campaign.

We can thrive with improved education for ALL Tennesseans.
We can thrive with better healthcare.
We can thrive by growing businesses that strengthen families.
And we can thrive by fortifying rural Tennessee and modernizing our infrastructure.
Together, Tennessee thrives.

Thanks so much,

Dr. Jason Martin