Blair Walsingham, Democratic contender for the U.S. First Congressional District, has had plenty of experiences that prepared her for a life of service.
She’s been a single mother, served in the U.S. Air Force, been a small business owner and worked all her life.
“Looking back on life, I’ve been thrown many hardships,” she said.
But, she said she does not see those experiences as bad. They are what has made her who she is.
Walsingham is the presumptive Democratic nominee after Democratic candidates Chris Rowe and Larry Smith dropped out of the race.
She is married and the mother of four children, two boys and two girls. Her and her family live in a small farm in Hawkins County where they located three years ago.
Walsingham was a military brat and her father served 35 years in the U.S. Air Force. She said she has lived across the country and even overseas.
At the age of 17, her parents signed a waiver and she joined the Air Force herself. While her classmates were going through graduation ceremonies, she was in basic training.
Walsingham served six years in the Air Force. Just before she was about to get out, she confronted one of her first hardships in life. She found out she had cervical cancer and battled the disease and now wears the mantle of being a cancer survivor.
She has held multiple jobs from working at Waffle House to owning her own dog grooming business.
She said she had visited the Smoky Mountains and fell in love with living in East Tennessee.
Walsingham said she always had a passion for one day running for office, but between working and her children, it couldn’t happen.
“I’ve always wanted to run, but it was hard for me,” she said.
The opportunity came this year as U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City, decided to not run for reelection.
There are 15 Republican candidates who are running for the Aug. 6 primary and will face Walsingham in the November general election.
She faces an uphill battle as there has not been a Democrat elected in the First Congressional District since 1879.
She sees that as a positive, though, because she knows as a Democrat she’ll face more scrutiny than others who may hold the position and she is up to the challenge.
The largest part of her platform revolves around the “Freedom Dividend.” It is a platform first introduced by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.
The idea is that every adult over the age of 18 would receive $1,000 a month from the government.
Yang’s Political Action Committee, Humanity Forward, has already endorsed her.
“It would be phenomenal for everyone, including several small business owners,” Walsingham said.
She said the dividend would pump $600 million alone into Hamblen County every month.
Her campaign is still working on how to pay for the plan, but she said there is a 13-point plan that will show constituents how it can be accomplished.
“The money is there, the money is yours, it just has to come to you and not big corporations,” she said.
If the people have that money, they can then invest it back into starting small businesses, she said.
She said she supports more taxes on corporations and the wealthy. She said big corporations like Amazon and Google need to pay their fair share of taxes.
She is in favor of expanding Medicaid.
Right now, she said she is still developing her platform on police reform. She said she has heard the terms “defund” and “abolish,” but she does not think many people really understand the terms or what that means. She said she plans on talking with local law enforcement agencies to conceptualize a plan.
Walsingham said she knows the basic nature for people is they “want a good future, they want good jobs.”
She said she thinks her plans can help people realize that.
“There is hope for a better future,” she said.