Looking Ahead: Election Season 2018

by Bass, Berry & Sims PLC

Bass, Berry & Sims PLC

In 2018, Tennesseans will take to the ballot box to elect a new U.S. senator, three new members of the U.S. House of Representatives, a new governor, at least five new state senators and over a dozen new state representatives. Although many incumbents are not retiring but rather choosing to run for different elected positions, the change in political landscape may be prime for new faces to enter the political scene. Non-establishment, pro-Trump candidates hope to continue their momentum, while Tennessee Democrats view this as an opportunity to gain back lost seats. With nine months left until the primary elections, anything can happen.

U.S. Senate

Senator Bob Corker's surprise announcement that he plans to retire at the end of his current term unleashed a Twitter-storm between the two-term senator and President Trump. While the war of words takes place in Washington, the effects of this announcement will most certainly be felt strongest in Tennessee as candidates begin to make a push for his seat.

Who is Running.

  • Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R), the eight-term U.S. representative, is considered the current favorite in the race. She is running on a pro-Trump agenda. Her campaign-launch video gained national attention when Twitter banned and then later reinstated the video.
  • Andy Ogles (R), the former Tennessee State Director of Americans for Prosperity, announced his candidacy several months ago. There is some speculation that Ogles will move to another race now that Blackburn has announced her candidacy. 
  • James Mackler (D), a Nashville attorney and veteran, is the only announced Democrat. He announced his candidacy early this summer.

Who is Mulling a Run

U.S. House of Representatives
With Rep. Jimmy Duncan retiring, Rep. Diane Black running for governor and Rep. Marsha Blackburn running for United States Senate, three out of the ten congressional seats in Tennessee are up for grabs. Several candidates have announced a run for these seats, but it is expected that more candidates may announce in the coming weeks.
Who is Running: Second Congressional Seat being vacated by Congressman John Duncan.

Who is Running: Sixth Congressional Seat being vacated by Congressman Diane Black.

Who is Running: Seventh Congressional Seat being vacated by Congressman Marsha Blackburn.

  • State Sen. Mark Green (R), the one-time President Trump nominee for Army Secretary.
  • Justin Kanew (D), a film writer and former reality television star. 
  • Franklin Mayor Ken Moore (R) (mulling a run for the vacant seat).

Tennessee Governor
There is already a crowded field in the race to replace Gov. Bill Haslam. Six Republicans and two Democrats have announced their candidacy. Should one of the Republicans win the election, it will be the first time since Reconstruction that the state has elected successive Republican governors.

Who is Running: Republicans.

  • Former state Sen. Mae Beavers (Beavers resigned from her state Senate seat to focus on her gubernatorial campaign).
  • U.S. Representative and former state Senator Diane Black
  • Knoxville businessman and former Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd
  • Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell.
  • Franklin businessman Bill Lee.
  • Johnson City realtor Kay White.

Who is Running: Democrats.

Tennessee Senate
Below is the current list of senators that will be leaving the state Senate, including many long-serving members and members with key leadership roles. There are expected to be additional changes as the election draws near.

  • Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt Juliet) has resigned to focus on her gubernatorial run.
  • Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris (D-Memphis) will leave state-wide office to run for Mayor of Shelby County. 
  • Republican Caucus Chairman. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) will not run for re-election but instead run for Rutherford County Mayor. 
  • Senate Majority Mark Norris (R-Collierville) has been nominated by President Trump to a federal judgeship.
  • Sen. Doug Overbey (R-Maryville) has been nominated by President Trump to serve as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Tennessee House of Representatives
More than a dozen legislators in the House will retire or run for a new position in 2018, including many legislators that serve in leadership roles. Below is the current list of legislators that will not be returning.

  • Rep. David Alexander (R-Winchester) is leaving to run for Mayor of Franklin County.
  • Rep. Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville) has announced his retirement.
  • Rep. Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) is leaving to run for governor.
  • Rep. Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville) is running for Senate seat currently held by Sen. Thelma Harper. Sen. Harper has not announced her retirement.
  • Rep. Marc Gravitt (R-East Ridge) is running for Hamilton County Register of Deeds.
  • House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) is running for governor.
  • Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville) is running for election as Davidson County Juvenile Court Clerk.
  • Rep. Roger Kane (R-Knoxville) is running for Knox County Clerk.
  • Rep. Judd Matheny (R-Tullahoma) is running for Congress.
  • Rep. Jimmy Matlock (R-Lenoir City) is running for Congress.
  • Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads) is retiring.
  • Rep. Joe Pitts (D-Clarksville) is retiring.
  • Rep. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) is running for the state Senate seat left vacant by Mae Beavers.
  • Rep. Jay Reedy (R- Erin) will run for the Senate seat left vacant by Mark Green.
  • Rep. Art Swann (R-Maryville) will run for the state Senate seat left vacant by Doug Overbey (should he be confirmed).
  • Rep. Dawn White (R-Murfreesboro) will run for the state Senate seat left vacant by Bill Ketron. Rep. White will face current Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess in the Republican Primary.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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