Former Shelby County Commission Chairman Heidi Shafer Tells The Tennessee Star Report She Will Run in Special Election to Replace State Sen. Mark Norris, When It Is Officially Called

On Wednesday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – the team talked with former Shelby County Commission Chairman Heidi Shafer about the process to replace State Sen. Mark Norris (R-Germantown), who was recently confirmed as a federal judge, in the Tennessee State Senate.

Shafer said that the process to replace Norris will be triggered after he formally resigns his seat in the State Senate and notifies the courts, events that are likely to take place after the November 6 elections.

If Norris resigns after November 6, a special primary election will be held as early as December, with a general election some time in January, just before the next session of the Tennessee General Assembly convenes.

Here is the transcript:

Shafer:  Good morning ya’ll it’s good to talk with you.

Leahy: So tell us all the twists and turns because of course the, you kow, Mark Norris was nominated to be a judge back in July of last year, and only just a week ago I guess it was he was he confirmed by the Senate, has he resigned yet?  What is the process to replace him?  What’s the story down there in Shelby County, Heidi?

Shafer: Well, it’s such an interesting story and we’ve only gotten some clairty about 24 hours ago.  Yes, Mark Norris has not resigned yet and apparently not even the resignation is the trigger, you know there’s always a legal trigger for what creates the position.  And to the best of our understanding what creates the trigger is his actually notifying the courts and after, your swearing in your sworn in and notify the court and apparently that’s the big trigger.  But he has not yet – the interesting thing was as when word first came that he got finally confirmed after what is it seventeen months.

Leahy:  A long time.

Shafer:  Waiting in the wings. That the first thing that happened was the Secretary of State Tre Harget, tweeted something out saying that there would be, this would happen at the November 6th election.

Leahy:  Well hold on – that’s just less than three weeks away?

Shafer:  Exactly and early voting starts today.  And it wouldn’t have been anywhere in the voting computer systems it wouldn’t have been mailed out on the military and absentee ballot, so you’d have some voters disenfranchised.  But the way they were reading some of the conflicting statutes was that, it would have to be hand written in, you’d have to request a special paper ballot, hand write in the name, spell the name correctly, and then you could actually have 10,000 separate candidate written in, and then those would have to be hand tabulated — can I hear ‘hanging chad?’

Gill: But they’ve rejected that theory on how to do it at this point, right?

Shafer: No, it hasn’t been completely confirmed. But yesterday we got an interview published from Tre Hargett saying that it is likely that since it will take time for Senator Norris to close down his law practice, that it will likely not happen before November 6. So I think that’s probably a good indication that it will not happen before November 6, which is this election, which then means it will go along a more normal process, which will be a special called election by the Governor, and then a primary, and  a general.

Gill: So we’re looking at probably February, March to when that primary and general elections are going to happen.

Shafer: I actually heard that they are going to speed that up and try to have the primary in December and the general in January, to try to avoid having an appointed person take place for a small amount of time…

Shafer delved into the fine points and process and strategy of filling the upcoming State Senate vacancy by the elevatin of Mark Norris to the federal bench, when the conversation turned to who might run for the office.

Leahy asked, “Have you considered whether or not you might take that opportunity to run for that State Senate seat?”

“Oh, absolutely,” Schafer answered immediately, “And I’m absolutely running for it!”

Listen to the full segement:


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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 am to the Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
















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