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Ex-Nashville mayor Dean to run for governor

Associated Press • Feb 26, 2017 at 1:15 PM

NASHVILLE — Former Nashville mayor Karl Dean said he’s decided to run for governor of Tennessee in 2018.

Dean will be the first Democrat to enter the governor’s race. A report in The Tennessean said he plans to file paperwork on Monday to appoint a campaign manager that would allow him to begin fundraising.

The 61-year-old Dean was Nashville’s mayor from 2007 to 2015.

No Democrat has been elected to statewide office in Tennessee since 2006. Dean said his candidacy “will be the hardest thing that I have ever done.”

“I don’t think you do this for the exercise and you don’t do it just to do it,” Dean said. “You do it because you’re serious about it and you want to win. I think in life your regrets are not doing things instead of doing things. I’ve tried to live my life that way, and that’s how I came to the decision.”

Dean has said the early start of a bid to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Bill Haslam would be necessary to overcome the fundraising and organizational challenges Democratic candidates face in Tennessee.

“What I hear from lots of Republicans and Democrats is that they want somebody who is pragmatic, somebody who cares about growth, somebody who cares about what the people care about, which I think are jobs and a sense of opportunity,” Dean told The Associated Press in an interview late last year. “Nashville is a city of opportunity. And Tennessee should be a state of opportunity.”

Dean had acknowledged that a successful gubernatorial bid would have to attract a large number of Republican voters because the Democratic base alone wouldn’t be enough to put him over the top.

The former mayor said that has been demonstrated by presidential elections in which Republicans like Donald Trump and Mitt Romney carried the state overwhelmingly despite losing Democratic Nashville and Memphis by similarly large margins.

State Sen. Mark Green of Ashland City is the only Republican to file official fundraising papers so far. Other Republicans who are weighing runs for governor are U.S. Rep. Diane Black of Gallatin, state House Speaker Beth Harwell and state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville. Other Democrats mulling candidacies are state House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh and real estate developer Bill Freeman.