State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) will announce her campaign for the Republican nomination for Governor of Tennessee at Charlie Daniels Park in Mount Juliet today at 1 pm.
In a statement released to the press last Saturday, Beavers said she will make repeal of the 6 cents per gallon gas tax increase and 10 cents per gallon diesel tax increase the top issue in her campaign.
Beavers was first elected to the State House of Representatives in 1994, and has served in the State Senate since 2002. She is widely recognized as one of the key state legislators who led the efforts to defeat the state income tax in the three years between 1999 and 2002 when then Gov. Don Sundquist, a Republican, attempted to push the tax through the Tennessee General Assembly.
One of the first elected officials in Tennessee to publicly endorse Donald Trump, Beavers was elected as an at-large statewide delegate to the Republican National Convention committed to Donald Trump during the 2016 election.
Beavers will become the third candidate to formally announce a run for the Republican Gubernatorial nomination. Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd and Williamson County businessman Bill Lee announced in March and April, respectively.
State Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville) was considered to be a likely candidate, but after his nomination and subsequent withdrawal for consideration as Secretary of the Army, Green released a statement on Friday saying “I will not resume my campaign for governor.”
Congresswoman Diane Black, Speaker of the Tennessee House Beth Harwell, and State Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville) are all considering joining the race.
With Green’s announcement that he will not be running for governor, Beavers has a clear lane to capture the conservative sector of the Republican primary vote.
Boyd, who describes himself as a “moderate” but who is considered by most Tennessee conservatives to be a liberal Democrat running in the Republican primary because that’s where the votes are, has been a big supporter of Gov. Haslam’s gas tax increase bill from its inception. Boyd served in Haslam’s cabinet as Economic Development Commissioner.
Boyd has also been unable to explain why he donated $250,000 to “Conexion Americas, a non-profit Latino advocacy organization headquartered in Nashville founded by Renata Soto,” a named affiliate of the National Council of LaRaza, a far left, pro-amnesty, open borders organization funded in part by George Soros.
From a policy perspective, as The Star noted last month, very little distinguishes Boyd from the Democrat front runner, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean.
Williamson County businessman Bill Lee said at his announcement in April that “he might have done it differently” but that the gas tax increase was now “water under the bridge,” and he would not undertake an effort to repeal it.
At least one left wing activist group says it intends to show up at the event for the purpose of disrupting it.
They are unhappy with Beavers for introducing a bill that would have kept men from going into girls bathrooms in public facilities, arguing that she is attempting to hurt the rights of transgenders, rather than protect little girls.
Beavers scoffs at the lack of common sense her critics show when making that argument.
In February, a number of young left wing protesters disrupted a press conference Beavers and State Rep. Mark Pody called about their bill.
The event became a bit of a local cause celebre when the male only Republican establishment that runs the State Senate failed to provide security for Beavers, so friends volunteered to provide security for her.
“An outbreak of protesters first disrupted, and then caused the cancellation of Mark Pody’s (R-Lebanon) and Sen. Mae Beavers’ (R-Mount Julie) joint press conference address Tennessee’s “Bathroom Bill” and Defense of Natural Marriage Act,” The Star reported in February.
Later in February, “Sen. Beavers and her staff – that day, a single young woman – arrived in her offices at the regular time to conduct the people’s business: meeting with constituents and fellow elected officials, answering questions about her pending legislation, and returning calls and letters from the people she represents in and around Mt. Juliet,” The Star reported:
“It was shortly after 11 a.m. when about a half-dozen people filed into my office and started demanding to see me,” Beavers said.
According to Sen. Beavers, she was in a meeting with an Administration official, when the protesters’ incessant knocking on her inner office door and loud speechifying became a distraction.
“When I opened my door a couple of times to ask them to quiet down, they tried to force their way into my office,” she said. They were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, out in the reception room, Beavers’ young staffer was surrounded by the protesters. One protester, a woman, stood behind her and took several photos of the receptionist’s computer screen and work.
Beavers subsequently expressed concern “about security at Legislative Plaza after receiving death threats and having problems with protesters interfering with meetings with constituents,” The Star reported in March:
However, in an interview with The Tennessee Star on Monday, Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) said she has not hired her own personal security as reported by The Tennessean on Thursday. Beavers said the paper “manufactured a story.”
Two men who are political friends are voluntarily helping protect her office but she did not seek their help, she said. Beavers said veterans from across the state have also volunteered to help but she has not taken them up on their offer.
Beavers said she has received a few death threats in recent weeks, including one that put her on a kill list along with President Trump and other nationally-known conservatives, as well as state Rep. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon).
Beavers has been the subject of protest because of her conservative positions on the transgender bathroom bill and gay marriage and her push to ensure that driver’s licenses for immigrants here on visas are clearly marked so they can’t vote. Last month, protesters shut down a press conference she was giving with Pody on the bathroom bill and the Natural Marriage Defense Act.
Beavers has two key advantages in her race for governor: she has been a reliably consistent conservative in a public life that spans more than two decades, and none of the other announced or potential candidates have staked out the conservative position she has in calling for a repeal of the gas tax.
Her biggest hurdle is whether or not she will be able to raise the millions of dollars her campaign will need to compete with three wealthy self-funding candidates: Randy Boyd, Bill Lee, and Diane Black.