Green puts off announcing gubernatorial plans
NASHVILLE — Republican state Sen. Mark Green has made up his mind about whether to rejoin the governor’s race in Tennessee, but he doesn’t want to make his decision public until later this week.
The Ashland City physician suspended his gubernatorial campaign while seeking confirmation as President Donald Trump’s pick for Army secretary. He withdrew from consideration for that position amid bipartisan criticism about his past comments on LGBT issues and Muslims.
Green had said he would make a decision about re-entering the governor’s race by Memorial Day. In a Facebook post late Monday night, Green said he and his wife, Camie, have made a joint decision, but he wants to spend the week informing friends and other leaders before revealing it publicly.
Fellow Republican Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet has announced plans to join the race this weekend. She had said during Green’s nomination for the Army post that she would run for governor if he didn’t.
Beavers, who said her top campaign priority will be fighting the “the terrorist threat from radical Islam,” made no mention of Green in her announcement.
Businessmen Randy Boyd of Knoxville and Bill Lee of Franklin are the only other candidates to formally enter the Republican race so far, while several others are considering a bid. They include U.S. Rep. Diane Black of Gallatin, state House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville and state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville.
A Vanderbilt University poll released Tuesday indicates that Black would start her race with an advantage in name recognition. Forty-nine percent of registered voters surveyed in the poll said they recognized Black’s name, followed by 34 percent for Harwell, 28 percent for Beavers, 26 percent for Boyd and 21 percent for Green. Lee and Norris had 14 percent name recognition.
Meanwhile, 38 percent said they recognized the name of Democratic candidate Karl Dean, a former Nashville mayor, while 8 percent had heard of Craig Fitzhugh, the state House minority leader from Ripley who is considering joining the race.
The poll found a slight dip in approval of term-limited Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, to 61 percent, down from 68 percent when the poll was last taken in November. The approval rating of the General Assembly dropped from 60 percent to 53 percent over the same period.
The poll surveyed 1,004 registered voters, of whom 37 percent were in the eastern division of the state, 44 percent in Nashville and central Tennessee, and 19 percent from the western region.