Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives Beth Harwell (R-Nashville), former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, and House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) were all called Gubernatorial candidates by attendees who listened to their speeches to the Tennessee Education Association at its gathering in Murfreesboro on Saturday.
“Clearly a campaign speech from Speaker of the House, Beth Harwell …,” Melanie Buchanan tweeted from the event, held at the Murfreesboro Embassy Suites, on Saturday.
Clearly a campaign speech from Speaker of the House, Beth Harwell….
— Melanie Buchanan (@memebuch) May 6, 2017
Joe Crabtree with Public School Advocates, posted this image of Harwell speaking at the event, who he called the “third gubernatorial candidate” to address the gathering, along with this accompanying post:
Crabtree also recognized Dean as the “second gubernatorial candidate.”
He called Fitzhugh “the first gubernatorial candidate.”
Crabtree appears to be a force within the Tennessee Education Association. Shortly after he posted the information about the addresses delivered by what he referred to as the three gubernatorial candidates, he announced his own campaign to become a Vice President of the TEA.
The Tennessee Education Association, is the state affiliate of the National Education Association. The NEA endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election against Donald Trump. The union is most closely identified with Democrat politics across the nation. Most recently they opposed the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education under Donald Trump.
Only Dean, a Democrat, has formally announced his candidacy for Governor of Tennessee in 2018. Fitzhugh is rumored to be considering
Harwell has not formally announced her candidacy for the GOP nomination for governor, though in March a friend of the Speaker claimed she would be in the race.
Capitol Hill sources tell The Tennessee Star they expect Harwell to announce her candidacy for governor next month. If she does, that will present her with a number of key decisions.
She may consider resigning as Speaker in order to devote her full attention to running for the state’s top executive office. If she does, a battle may develop to determine who will succeed her as Speaker, though House Majority Leader Glen Casada (R-Franklin) would be considered the early front runner.
Notable in their absences from the event were the only two announced GOP candidates for governor: former Haslam cabinet member and Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd and Williamson County businessman Bill Lee.
State Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville), who withdrew as a nominee for Secretary of Army on Friday, and was reportedly considering a run for the GOP nomination for governor before he was tapped by Trump for the Army position, was also not in attendance at the event.
— Rep. Craig Fitzhugh (@craigfitzhugh) May 6, 2017
Karl Dean’s campaign Twitter account tweeted this:
— Karl F. Dean (@KarlFDean) May 6, 2017