MT. JULIET, Tenn. — Mae Beavers announced Wednesday that she will step down from the state Senate so she can focus on her bid for Tennessee governor.
The Mt. Juliet Republican, who has served in the upper chamber of the Tennessee General Assembly since 2002, got choked up at her press conference to reveal her plans to resign on Aug. 30.
“It’s harder than I thought,” she said.
Beavers said she is supporting state Rep. Mark Pody’s bid to fill her unexpired term in a special election. Beavers and Pody, R-Lebanon, were frequent co-sponsors of legislation, including efforts to require transgender students to use restrooms corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificate, and to declare marriage to only be between a man and a woman. Both measures failed this year.
Beavers said she concluded amid her travels around the state that she can’t be an effective lawmaker and candidate at the same time. Her decision stands in contrast with two Republican rivals, state House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville and U.S. Rep. Diane Black of Gallatin, who plan to remain in office while they run for governor.
Other Republican candidates include businessmen Randy Boyd of Knoxville and Bill Lee of Franklin. The Democratic candidates so far are former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and state House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley, who also plans to remain in office while running.
Beavers opposed term-limited Gov. Bill Haslam’s road funding program that includes the state’s first gas tax hike since 1989. She also rejects calls to remove a bust of Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest from the state Capitol. She said her campaign is gaining support of Tennesseans who “feel they’re strangers in their own state.”
“There’s a growing wave of discontent sweeping across the state,” Beavers said.
“But I can tell you there’s also a mighty wind of cheerful determination to hold the line on taxes and regulations, to hold the line against illegal immigration and refugee resettlement,” she said. “And to hold the line for commonsense bathrooms, for peace in our streets and for the statues that memorialize our ancestors.”
Next year’s gubernatorial primary is on Aug. 2.