On Saturday, GOP gubernatorial candidate Lynda “Lindy” Blanchard spoke to the Shoals Republican Club at their monthly breakfast meeting. Blanchard is challenging incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey (R) in the Republican Primary.

“Europe used to be our number one trading partner," said Blanchard. "Now it's China. Why, under Ivey’s administration, have we made China our number one trading partner? They can rip the rug out from us.”

Blanchard promised to protect our state’s port and land from being bought up by the Chinese and she promised to protect the state from federal government overreach.

“As your governor, I would focus on being the first line of defense against both the federal government and our enemy, China,” Blanchard said.

Blanchard was appointed by President Donald J. Trump (R) to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia.

Prior to her State Department service, Blanchard and her husband, John, were self-made millionaires in the private sector in the real estate business.

“Our first property was in Mobile,” Blanchard said. “We still have properties in Mobile and we now own properties across the Southeast.”

Blanchard said that in high school she checked out after lunch to work each day. She met John Blanchard when they were teens and they married at age 19. They made the decision as a family to put John through school first. At age 28 with two children, she went to college.

When she graduated Auburn University with a degree in mathematics, they went into business and bought the property in Mobile.

“Our oldest son, Christopher was a student at the University of South Alabama,” Blanchard said. “There he was introduced to drugs and oxycodone. He succumbed to that addiction.”

After Christopher’s death, “As a family we had to step back and reexamine what we wanted to do,” Blanchard said. “We started a nonprofit.”

The nonprofit focused on how they could help orphans and promote adoptions. That eventually expanded to 15 other countries.

“That is what was on the resume that caught the eye of Melania Trump,” Blanchard explained.

Slovenia, which used to be part of the former communist country Yugoslavia, is Melania’s native country.

“I got a phone call asking if I would apply for a job with the White House,” Blanchard said.

The First Lady chose Blanchard to be Ambassador to Slovenia and the President agreed.

“The Dems did not want me to get that position,” Blanchard said. “They did not want the First Lady to have an appointed ambassador in her home country. We had to work hard against the Dems. Sen. Menendez made a speech on the day of my cloture vote and accused me of having mixed religion with politics.”

Blanchard said that Menendez was referring to a post she had made on election day 2016.

“May God our Father make this country red with the blood of Jesus,” Blanchard prayed.

“We finally got to go to a vote,” and the Republican Senate majority at that time confirmed her.

“A lot of people don’t understand what we do as ambassadors,” Blanchard said. “We work all day and host all night. Most people only know about the hosting, but we work all day.”

“Under Mike Pompeo, we were the only ambassador to have an act of violence or threat of violence carried out against us,” Blanchard said.

She was unable to go into detail about the incident but credited her Marine security team with securing her and her children.

Blanchard said that Alabama is trailing behind Mississippi and other southern states in job creation as well as in broadband expansion.

Blanchard faces a crowded Republican field that includes: Ivey, Lee County Pastor Dean Odle, Greenville businessman Tim James, King’s Home President Lew Burdette, Springville Mayor Dave Thomas, State Auditor Jim Zeigler, and former Morgan County Commissioner Stacey George.

The Shoals Republican Club normally meets on the first Saturday of each month at 8:30 a.m. at the historic Stricklin Hotel in downtown Florence near the campus of the University of North Alabama. The next meeting will be on Feb. 5.

The major party primaries will be held on May 24.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.