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Meet the state Senate candidate who’s trying to convince Tennessee’s 1 percent to support Medicaid

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05.11.2018

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, TENNESSEE — Kristen Grimm has just realized she forgot to clean out her minivan. She gushes her apologies as she pulls open the driver’s side door, revealing a passenger seat littered with palm cards and newspapers. Her backseat, filled with yard signs, an extra coat, and a change of shoes is also not rider-ready.

But her dismay about the messy car doesn’t — or rather, it can’t — last long before she’s on to the next thing: A phone call from a friend, which turns into a running recap of her campaign for state Senate. She’s still on the phone when she rolls down the window to call out to a man on riding past on a bicycle.

Grimm’s been up since 4:30 a.m. Earlier in the morning, when the barista at a nearby coffee shop brought her a giant cappuccino, she paused, gripping the mug with both hands, and proclaimed that this was going to be the happiest moment of her day.

Williamson County is the wealthiest county in the state of Tennessee and the seventh wealthiest in the country. Its median income, which is more than $104,000 per year, is more than twice the state’s average of $47,423 and three times that of Hancock Country, where it’s less than $28,000.

It’s Williamson’s astonishing wealth that makes the thrust of Grimm’s campaign so remarkable. In her quest to take down incumbent Republican state Sen. Jack Johnson, she’s campaigning on, of all things, Medicaid. Or, as she prefers to frame it, it’s a campaign to represent the district and its residents for who they are.

“Some people have said, ‘You seem to focus a lot on the poor, and you live in a very wealthy county,’” she told me earlier. “This is what I know about my county: We are a compassionate community. And we need to be represented as one. We’re a generous community. We need to be represented as a generous community.”

She continued, excitedly, “And corporations, special interest groups who advocate for the profit margins of other corporations…they have had many seats at the table. Many seats at the table. And the truth of the matter is, people don’t understand that we’re all connected.”

Trump reportedly poised to approve restrictive changes to Medicaid

The administration is ready to approve work requirements in three states and to allow questions about drug use in one.

How Grimm came to run is a long story, but the simplest version of it is that Medicaid has now, on several occasions, saved........

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