Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2010, 2nd term.

Born: January 16, 1951, Baltimore, MD

Home: Gallatin

Education: Anne Arundel Col., A.S. 1971; Belmont U., B.A. 1992.

Professional Career: Registered nurse, 1969-2010; Dir., Sumner Regional Health Systems, 1993-98; owner, Ebon-Falcon.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Lutheran

Family: Married (David) , 3 children

Diane Black, a Republican elected in 2010, is an active social conservative and has a background in health care, which helped land her a coveted seat on the Ways and Means Committee.

Black was born in Baltimore and lived in the area for most of her early life. She obtained an associate’s degree in nursing from a local community college in 1971. In 1985, she and her business executive husband, David Black, moved to Tennessee. Black returned to school to get her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Belmont University. She got into politics in 1998, when she was elected to the first of three terms in the Tennessee House. By 2001, she was involved in an anti-tax protest that foreshadowed her involvement in the tea party eight years later. In 2004, Black moved up to the state Senate.

During her six-year tenure, she became the first woman to chair the Senate Republican Caucus. She also earned her stripes as a small-government conservative, repeatedly voting against a state income tax and increases to the state sales tax. Late in the 2010 General Assembly session, Black championed an unsuccessful bill to allow Tennessee residents to opt out of the federal health care law. She pushed for a traditional definition of marriage, a zero tolerance policy for illegal immigrants, and a balanced budget constitutional amendment.

When conservative Democratic Rep. Bart Gordon retired after a 25-year career, Black decided to run for the seat. Black’s campaign hit an initial bump when one of her legislative aides sent a racist e-mail from her government account portraying President Barack Obama as two eyes peering out of a black background in a presidential portrait. The incident received widespread media coverage, and Black reprimanded the staffer but did not fire her. Black subsequently survived a bruising three-way GOP primary with 31% of the vote, edging out second-place finisher Lou Ann Zelenik by 283 votes. Zelenik, the Rutherford County GOP chair, drew considerable attention for making her opposition to a local Muslim community center a top issue and accusing Black of not taking a strong enough stand against it.

In the general election, Black’s conservative views made her a tea party favorite, and she racked up endorsement from Republican luminaries, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. In calling for repeal of the health care law, Black invoked her experience a nurse in emergency rooms. She raised $2.4 million, with more than half coming from her own wallet and more than 10 times the amount mustered by her opponent, Iraq war veteran Brett Carter. She won 67% to 29%, carrying every county in the district.

In the House, Black was named as one of four freshmen regional directors of the National Republican Congressional Committee in recognition of her fundraising acumen. She is among the House’s richest members—the Center for Responsive Politics calculated her average net worth in 2011 at $64 million. But she cares little for the trappings of wealth; according to Robert Draper’s 2012 book Do Not Ask What Good We Do, her choice of transportation as a freshman was a well-worn Oldsmobile. She was among those tied in National Journal’s rankings for the House’s most-conservative member in 2011 (she was 26th in 2012).

Her first piece of legislation was a bill to deny federal funding to Planned Parenthood because of the group’s involvement with abortion —an issue that eventually became one of the main sticking points in a final budget deal between Obama and House Republicans that year. She ended up introducing half a dozen other abortion-related bills. She also sponsored a measure in 2013 to give any individual or group that opposes contraception an automatic exemption from the requirement in the health care law that employee health insurance plans provide birth control. And the House passed her amendment in 2012 to prevent the Obama administration from challenging state immigration laws in court. With a seat on the Budget Committee, she staunchly defended GOP Chairman Paul Ryan’s effort to cut more than $6 trillion in spending.

Zelenik returned for another primary challenge in 2012, once again making her opposition to the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro a focal point. She found a wealthy ally in Tennessee multimillionaire Andy Miller, who also paid for ads attacking Black for supporting a hike in the federal debt limit. But post-2010 redistricting removed Zelenik’s base of Rutherford County from the 6th District, and Black won a suspense-free 69%-31% primary. Democrats didn’t bother to field a general election candidate.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-4231

(202) 225-6887

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1131
Washington, DC 20515-4206

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-4231

(202) 225-6887

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1131
Washington, DC 20515-4206

DISTRICT OFFICE

(615) 206-8204

(615) 206-8980

355 North Belvedere Drive Suite 308
Gallatin, TN 37066-5466

DISTRICT OFFICE

(615) 206-8204

(615) 206-8980

355 North Belvedere Drive Suite 308
Gallatin, TN 37066-5466

DISTRICT OFFICE

(931) 854-0069

(615) 206-8980

321 East Spring Street Suite 301
Cookeville, TN 38501-4168

DISTRICT OFFICE

(931) 854-0069

(615) 206-8980

321 East Spring Street Suite 301
Cookeville, TN 38501-4168

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(615) 461-5665

PO Box 1437
Gallatin, TN 37066-1437

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 1437
Gallatin, TN 37066-1437

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Katie Mitchell
Legislative Assistant

Appropriations

Robert Cogan
Legislative Director

Budget

Robert Cogan
Legislative Director

Commerce

Robert Cogan
Legislative Director

Communication

Robert Cogan
Legislative Director

Finance

Jon Toomey
Legislative Assistant

jon.toomey@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4231

Govt Ops

Robert Cogan
Legislative Director

Gun Issues

Robert Cogan
Legislative Director

Homeland Security

Jon Toomey
Legislative Assistant

jon.toomey@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4231

Immigration

Robert Cogan
Legislative Director

Judiciary

Robert Cogan
Legislative Director

Jon Toomey
Legislative Assistant

jon.toomey@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4231

Labor

Robert Cogan
Legislative Director

Jon Toomey
Legislative Assistant

jon.toomey@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4231

Military

Jon Toomey
Legislative Assistant

jon.toomey@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4231

Social Security

Robert Cogan
Legislative Director

Tax

Robert Cogan
Legislative Director

Technology

Robert Cogan
Legislative Director

Telecommunications

Jon Toomey
Legislative Assistant

jon.toomey@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4231

Transportation

Jon Toomey
Legislative Assistant

jon.toomey@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4231

Veterans

Jon Toomey
Legislative Assistant

jon.toomey@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4231

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Diane Black
Votes: 184,383
Percent: 76.43%
Scott Beasley
Votes: 34,766
Percent: 14.41%
Pat Riley
Votes: 21,633
Percent: 8.97%
2012 PRIMARY
Diane Black
Votes: 44,949
Percent: 69.38%
2010 GENERAL
Diane Black
Votes: 128,517
Percent: 67.26%
Brett Carter
Votes: 56,145
Percent: 29.38%
2010 PRIMARY
Diane Black
Votes: 24,374
Percent: 30.51%
Lou Ann Zelenik
Votes: 24,091
Percent: 30.16%
Jim Tracy
Votes: 23,808
Percent: 29.8%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (67%)

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