- Family Features
- Business Directory
- Gallery Of Homes
- Subscribe Now!
- Place A Classified Ad
- New! Digital e-Edition
Harwell considering gubernatorial bid
Jun 10, 2005 12:00 am
June 7, 2005
State Rep. Beth Harwell may be getting closer to jumping from the race for the Republican nomination for an open U.S. Senate seat to her party's likely nominee for governor.
Harwell, who is the immediate past chair of the Tennessee Republican Party, said Monday she is still undecided about whether to stay in the U.S. Senate race or face off with incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen in 2006.
"I've not made any kind of decision regarding that," Harwell said about either pursuing her U.S. Senate bid or moving to the governors race. "Right now, I have formed an exploratory committee for the Senate, and I am pursuing that."
Harwell has continued to leave the door open publicly for a gubernatorial bid, and noted Monday in speaking to the The Lebanon Democrat there is a "void" without a clear cut GOP candidate in the race to face Bredesen less than 16 months from the 2006 election.
"Partisan politics aside, I think people deserve a choice," Harwell said. "We've come too far as a party to just throw an election."
Presently, Harwell is the lone woman in a field of four GOP hopefuls to replace outgoing Sen. Bill Frist.
The GOP primary has been dominated in the early stages by calls from grass roots factions loyal to former Congressmen Van Hilleary and Ed Bryant for one of the two men to get out of the Senate race and enter the race against Bredesen.
Another theme in the early stages of the GOP Senate primary has been Hilleary and Bryant attacking the conservative credentials of the clear cut fund-raising front runner, former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker.
However, Harwell is also being discussed as an intriguing opponent for Bredesen – the first legitimate female candidate ever in a Tennessee gubernatorial contest. As of yet the GOP filed to face Bredesen is non-existent with only little known GOP fund-raiser Scooter Clippard talking up a bid.
Some Republican strategist see Harwell after two election cycles of party building and fund-raising as state party chair as the perfect candidate for Bredesen, who beat Hilleary with crossover Republican votes on a platform of fiscal responsibility and a promise to reform the state's ailing TennCare health care system for the poor and uninsurable.
"She could take back the Republican votes Van (Hilleary) lost," GOP campaign strategist Darren Morris said. "She is strong with the grass roots of the party and obviously a very competent fund-raiser. She is articulate and has the background to be governor. She could give Phil Bredesen a run for his money, especially since he is more vulnerable than most people think."
Yet, Harwell insists her Senate exploration is going "very well," adding she is still waiting to see how things may shake out in a very early primary season.
"I still think I have a lot to offer as a U.S. senator," Harwell said. "With the three men beating up on each other and its just begun, there may be an opportunity for me down the road."
Managing Editor Clint Brewer can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 13 or by e-mail at email@example.com.