jason martin

Memphis Councilman Smiley announces Democratic bid for governor

JB Smiley Jr. (Image credit: City of Memphis)

Memphis Councilman JB Smiley Jr. is officially joining the 2022 governor’s race in Tennessee. Smiley announced his bid for the Democratic nomination on Wednesday, joining Nashville physician Jason Martin, Greensboro pastor Casey Nicholson, and Memphis activist Carnita Atwater. Republican Gov. Bill Lee has yet to draw a primary opponent for his reelection bid.

Here’s the release from the Smiley campaign:

Memphis, TN — Today, Memphis City Councilman JB Smiley Jr. announced his campaign for Governor at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis and through the release of a launch video.

Here are excerpts from Democrat JB Smiley’s remarks:

“After dedicating the last several months to listening to Tennesseans across the state, it’s incredibly clear to me that we’re all feeling the discomfort of failed policies and inaction from our Governor. Tennesseans deserve better. Tennesseans demand better. And today I’m excited and humbled to announce I am running for governor to help guide us to a better Tennessee.”

“I truly believe that we are more alike than we are different. I believe that we all want to create more job opportunities for our next generation. We all want equitable access to healthcare – whether you live in an urban community or a rural part of our state. We all want better roads, stronger bridges, reliable internet to connect us to the rest of the world and each other. We all want better for our children, our families, and our future.”

“I decided to run for Governor because right now – we have too many gun shots fired, not enough COVID shots given and too few shots for our young people to reach their potential.”

“As Governor, I’ll reduce crime by investing in robust community policing, and I’ll fund prevention programs focused on those most likely to commit violent crime, because everyone deserves to be safe in their homes and communities.”

“I’ll encourage folks across the state to do right by each-other. That means getting vaccinated. And I’ll ensure Tennesseans have access to health care no matter where they live.“

“And I will prioritize giving our young people a real shot to succeed — with state-of-the-art vocational training in every high school and partnerships with our business leaders to create pathways to the jobs that will help our young people stay here in Tennessee”

“So today I’m announcing my campaign for Governor and I’m inviting all of you to come and go with me to a better Tennessee.”

Background on JB

A native Memphian, JB Smiley Jr. is an attorney and a member of the Memphis City Council. The son of a social worker and a Bronze Star army soldier, JB Smiley, Jr. knows the value of hard work and a healthy, supportive community.

After JB’s collegiate and semi-professional basketball career, he pursued a legal education, and later, a political career. But his life in serving the most vulnerable, started from a young age.

As his father taught him to “never forget the bridge that brought you over,” JB decided to stay in the region to attend college and then law school at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. While in law school, JB served as a member of the Law Review, Moot Court Board, and as Vice President of the Black Law Students Association. JB successfully passed Arkansas and the Tennessee Bar exams, while writing his first book, Born With It: Unleashing Your Greatness.

In 2017, in Memphis, JB started his law practice, Smiley & Associates, PLLC. The following year, JB was named to Memphis Flyer’s Top 20, Under 30 class. During that same year, JB was appointed policy advisor to the Shelby County Clerk and served in such capacity until his election to the Memphis City Council in October. As a council member, JB is Chair of the Public Works, Transportation, and General Services Committee and the council liaison for the Urban Art Commission. On the City Council, JB has delivered for his community, implementing the Memphis Academy of Civic Engagement, the Memphis Police Department Transparency Portal, and amending the Eviction Set Out Ordinance.

In his spare time, JB likes to play basketball, work out, binge watch Netfilix shows, and keep his dog, Mighty Mouse, and his nephew, Bryson Maxwell Smiley, smiling!

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

Physician Martin mulls Dem bid for governor

Physician Jason Martin of Nashville has formed an exploratory committee for a Democratic gubernatorial bid next year, the Nashville Scene’s Stephen Elliott reports.

Martin is a pulmonary and critical care specialist at Sumner Regional Medical Center and a former Meharry Medical College professor. While he has never previously sought public office, he has become an outspoken critic of Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s pandemic response.

Martin chronicled his experience in treating patients early in the pandemic in a Tennessean feature in April 2020.

Elliott reports Martin has hired Amplified Public Strategies, a new firm founded by former Tennessee Democratic Party communications director Emily Cupples and state Rep. Torrey Harris. Martin is appearing with Harris, fellow Memphis Democratic Rep. London Lamar, Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer and Michelle Fiscus, the state’s former vaccination chief who was fired earlier this month, at an event in Memphis this weekend.

Cupples had also started the Beat Bill Lee PAC in April.

With the primary just over a year away, Carnita Atwater of Memphis is only declared Democrat in the race.

Read the rest of Elliott’s report here.