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Actress Overall’s Campaign Role: Taking on a ‘Corporate Operative’

“Nurse Laverne is running for the U.S. Senate.” That’s the first line in a Robert Houk column on the Greeneville native and environmental activist turned Senate candidate.
The quote was from an Internet headline. The rest of the column includes a lot of comments from Park Overall, who as an actress played Laverne, the “sassy, down-home nurse on the 1980s sitcom “Empty Nest.”
Overall’s candidacy offers the Senate race a bit of star power that it would definitely lack otherwise….
Overall is the first to say she was heavily recruited by state party officials to make this race. She is a plain-speaking, down-to-earth person who knows how to use humor to make important points. I wonder if that will help or hurt her on the campaign trail. Quite frankly, many voters don’t want to hear their candidates speak the truth. They would rather be peppered with platitudes and catchphrases from their politicians than hear honest positions on complicated issues.
“I was motivated to do this only because the Nashville Democrats kept asking me to, and then I began to worry that no one else would do it for the party,” Overall told me by email last week. “I felt somebody had to do it. Bob Corker is a corporate operative. I must do what I can to curtail this heinous and destructive movement.”
Her campaign platform is very simple.
“I am for unions, in a big way,” she told me. “I am for women and children in a big way. Veterans also have a very big place in my heart.”
Overall says she is worried about the future of the poor and the middle class of this nation, and plans to talk about that on the campaign trail, as well as other difficult things that candidates don’t normally like to discuss on the stump. That includes child abuse and women’s issues.
“Why is my womb attached to a transportation bill?,” she asked recently in a Jackson Day speech in Nashville.
She says she is not hearing “the truth” from political leaders in Washington or Nashville, and she vows to make her campaign about conversations, not confrontations.
“I feel the hate all around me, and I want to do what I can to stop it,” Overall said last week. “I hope to influence a more positive use of the language. A more civil and substantive discourse must be returned to us as a nation.”
…She also noted that she would not be able to compete with millionaire Corker’s fabulous $7.5 million campaign war chest. Instead, Overall said she will be “banking on the people, unions and the truth” to carry her message to voters.
“One Facebook friend sent me $5, once a month, for six months and I burst into tears,” Overall said. “What a lovely woman to do that for me.