In eleven months and five days, Tennessee will elect its next governor. The next governor will be the state’s fiftieth since 1796, and the excitement of the race could not be more fitting to mark the occasion.
While an article about an election that is a year away may seem ambitious and frankly unnecessary, coverage of this election has been heating up for over a year now. What began as a normal election procedure has turned into a flurry of candidates all vying for the same spot. Intially, in early 2017, there were one or two candidates from both the Republican and Democratic parties announcing that they would be entering the race. Since then, six candidates have announced their campaigns.
The red side of the aisle makes up for most of the electoral chaos. Five republican candidates look to have their names adorn voting tickets throughout Tennessee come November of 2018. The candidates are Mae Beavers, a former State Senator, Diane Black, a U.S. Representative from Northeast Tennessee, Randy Boyd, the former Commissioner of the Department of Economics and Community Development for Tennessee, Beth Harwell, Tennessee Speaker of the House and MBA parent and board member, and Bill Lee, a prominent businessman. The three to watch out for are Harwell, Black, and Boyd. All three of these potential Governors have made large steps in establishing their hold over the state through endorsements and active campaigns.
So far, the most intriguing campaign stunt came from the Randy Boyd campaign, wherein Randy Boyd ran 537 miles from Bristol to Memphis, promoting his campaign along the way. Boyd stopped only for food, sleep, and the opportunity to meet his potential constituency. The 63-year-old, Forrest Gump wannabe, completed the journey in 100 days. His rate averaged out to just over four big red laps per day. The Bell Ringer’s staff mathlete is still calculating his average speed out in “laps around the quad in Chariots of Fire per hour.” Boyd said of why he was running, “This way I can exercise and get to know the state at a very granular level and I can promote something that I will want to promote as governor, and that is a healthier Tennessee.
The democratic candidate, Karl Dean, has all but secured his place as the opponent of whoever wins the republican primary. Dean previously served two terms as the mayor of Nashville from 2007 until 2015.
An important question to answer when reading this article is: why does any of this matter?
On a statewide level, the new governor will be leading the state for the next four to eight years. So, in 2022 or 2026, the state of Tennessee will be determined by the actions of whoever is elected. On a broader level, however, the new governor of Tennessee must represent the state to the rest of the country.
Over the past decade, American politics have undergone a drastic shift. The importance of personality has been raised to new heights while the actual substance of a politician’s tenure has taken a backseat. Also, the changing landscape of the United State’s cultural makeup has led to increased polarization and division. How these factors are dealt with will be a telling sign of the success of each campaign.
As the election heats up, pay attention to what is written in The Tennessean or on the morning news. With Tennessee’s Governor and Senate races dominating the headlines, Tennessee politics are playing a defining role not only on a statewide but nationwide. What may seem a boring, dull, and insignificant race is shaping up to be the most generation defining election in the history of Tennessee.