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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennesseans will soon see the first wide open governor’s race since 2010.
That’s when current Governor Bill Haslam emerged from a pack of candidates before facing little opposition for his re-election.
Now the focus again is on those who might run to succeed the term-limited governor.
With one of the people who want the governor’s office up there possibly heading to Washington, it brought a surprise announcement this week on the republican side
You might argue that President Donald Trump is playing a role in Tennessee’s governor’s race.
Reports are that he wants republican state Senator Mark Green as the next Secretary Of The Army, but it means the lawmaker would end his announced bid for governor.
Green’s exit may mean an entrance from fellow state republican Senator Mae Beaver, who says people from one end of the state to the other have called her to replace Green if he leaves for Washington.
“Senator Green, who is clearly our most conservative so far, will probably be picked for Secretary of the Army, and they were asking me to get into the race, saying we need a conservative in the race,” Beavers told News 2.
Former State Economic Development Commissioner Randy Boyd is the only other well-known name to officially announce and begin raising money, but the republican side will likely be crowded.
“Oh I am interested, I am interested but I have not made a decision,” said Sen. Mark Norris.
Norris, the majority leader of Shelby County, has other business to attend to first, like leading the effort to pass Governor Haslam’s proposed budget.
But once that’s done at the close of this year’s legislative session, he’ll make a decision.
“I am inclined in that direction but it’s still premature,” Sen. Norris said.
Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell has said she, too, will make a decision about running for governor once this year’s session is over.
Then there is congressional member Diane Black who has not ruled out a bid, but she is busy in DC in her new job as House Budget Chair.
Those are just some of the names on the republican side.
Former Nashville mayor and democrat Karl Dean is also in the running. He told News 2’s Bob Muller why he wanted to run a few weeks ago.
“Something to offer the state. I think focusing on clear priorities, working on education working on economic opportunities were things that really appealed to me,” Dean said.
“Democrats have not held the governor’s office up there at the state capitol in almost eight years,” he added.
House democratic leader Craig Fitzhugh has given every indication that he will become the second democrat to officially enter the race.
“I know it’s a long climb for a rural democrat to become governor, but Ned McWherter did a pretty good job at it,” said Rep. Fitzhugh.
“I am moving toward it. I really am,” he added.
Fitzhugh plans to make a decision once this year’s legislative session in over, so for now it leaves Dean as the only democrat who has filed with the state to raise money.
“I like to try and solve problems. I like people. I like listening to people,” Fitzhugh said.
But whether Fitzhugh or others join Dean as a democratic candidate for governor, both know it’s an uphill battle in a state that’s become a republican stronghold.
The primaries for both parties in the governor’s race are on Aug. 2 next year.