Speaker Beth Harwell announces official run for governor

WKRN - NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee House Speaker, Beth Harwell,  officially announced her run for governor Sunday morning.

"Tennessee needs someone who possesses the experience from day one to lead our state to the next level and who has a steady hand when challenges come our way," Harwell said. "As Governor, I will lead on jobs, cutting taxes, guaranteeing every child has a great school, and ensuring our Tennessee values are protected. Every Tennessean should have every opportunity to succeed and prosper in our state. That's why I am running to be Tennessee's next Governor," said Harwell in a statement.

Harwell has been quietly calling people over the last week telling them she is definitely running for governor.

WATE 6 On Your Side's Nashville sister station, WKRN, was told by several state and local officeholders that the longtime Republican Nashville lawmaker is looking for their support in a 2018 gubernatorial bid.

One of the public officials says a formal announcement could come as early as Sunday from Harwell who is the first woman ever elected as House speaker in Tennessee.

The announcement has long been expected as Harwell has attended a variety of local political events all over the state in recent months.

A spokesperson for the Speaker chose not to comment for this story.

Harwell will join State Senator Mae Beavers, former state economic commissioner Randy Boyd, and Franklin businessman Bill Lee as the other candidates who have officially announced they will seek the Republican nomination for governor.

Middle Tennessee congressional member Diane Black is also expected to join the race.

Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean is the only Democrat to announce a gubernatorial bid.

Both party primaries for governor are in August of 2018.

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