With Haslam out, who could become Tennessee’s next senator?

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – “Senator Bill Haslam…” those are three words you won’t hear anytime soon in American politics. The former Tennessee Governor and Knoxville Mayor made that announcement Thursday following months of consideration and speculation.

When U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander announced he wouldn’t seek re-election in December, he wrote, in part, that he was grateful for the chance to serves Tennessee as Governor and in the United States Senate, but also wrote, “it is time for someone else to have that privilege.”

Part of former Governor Haslam’s statement said:

“While I think serving in the United States Senate would be a great privilege and responsibility, I have come to the conclusion that it is not my calling for the next period of my life. I remain grateful for everyone who has allowed me to serve as Mayor and a Governor and I love forward to serving out state and country in other ways.”

-Bill Haslam, July 11, 2019

RELATED: Former Tennessee Gov. Haslam won’t run for US Senate seat

So far, we can confirm two declared candidates for the seat:

Dr. Manny Sethi, an orthopedic trauma surgeon from Nashville, is running as a republican. His website says he’s running to “heal Washington’s problems and protect the American dream.”

James Mackler is an attorney and Iraq War veteran and running for the seat as a Democrat. His site says he’s running to “restore respect, honestly, and integrity in Washington.”

Other would-be contenders are either still to-be-determined or not running at all:

Rep. Tim Burchett
Burchett’s Chief of Staff, Michael Grider, confirmed Thursday the Congressman was “disappointed” Gov. Haslam isn’t seeking the seat. He said it was “too early” for Congressman to rule out of a run himself.

Rep. David Kustoff
Congressman Kustoff, who represents a large portion of West Tennessee, tweeted a statement Thursday which praised Haslam, but also indicated Kustoff could seek the seat. His statement, in part, reads: “It is vital that Tennessee has a senator that knows and deeply cares about the state and its people. I’ve been approached by folks from all across Tennessee encouraging me to run and I look forward to continuing to talk to the people about how to best continue serving our great state.”

UT System Interim President Randy Boyd
“I will not be running for the United States Senate in 2020. My total focus is on the University of Tennessee System and working for the success of our students, faculty, administrators, campuses, and institutes all across our great state.”

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero
A spokesperson confirms Rogero will not run.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke
A spokesperson confirms Berke will not run.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann
A campaign spokesperson for Congressman Fleischmann said Thursday he is not considering a run at this time, but “he looks forward to supporting a strong conservative leader.”

Rep. Mark Green
Not running – confirmed by Nexstar D.C. Bureau.

Fmr. Rep. Diane Black
Black’s former Chief of Staff confirmed Thursday she will not be running.

Jimmy Matlock
Matlock said Thursday he’s “closed no doors” and each day since his primary loss, he’s had someone encourage him to run for public office in some capacity. Overall, he said, he’s not had much time to think it over.

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