HUNTSVILLE — The Tennessee gubernatorial primary is months away, but the jockeying for position among Republican candidates to succeed Bill Haslam has already begun, with Randy Boyd announcing Wednesday that he has landed an endorsement from Scott County Mayor Dale Perdue.
According to Boyd's campaign, Perdue joined 21 other county mayors across East Tennessee — including Morgan County's Don Edwards and Anderson County's Terry Frank — in endorsing the Knoxville businessman, who is considered an early favorite to win the GOP primary next year.
Boyd, who served a stint as Tennessee's commissioner of the Department of Economic & Community Development under Haslam, is the multi-millionaire owner of the Tennessee Smokies baseball club, and also owns a Knoxville-based company that specializes in pet products. He had a large presence at the Scott County Republican Party's Lincoln-Reagan dinner at the Boys & Girls Club of the Cumberland Plateau on Saturday.
With Haslam ineligible for a third term in office, Republicans are seeking to have a Republican governor succeed a term-limited Republican governor for the first time since Reconstruction.
Mark Green, a state senator from Ashland City, has already entered the race to oppose Boyd on the Republican ballot, and several other Republicans are expected to enter the fray as well. A Wikipedia page tracking the 2018 election lists Sen. Ken Yager, who represents Scott County as part of the 12th Senatorial District, as a potential candidate, though the Kingston Republican has shown no indication of entering the race.
More specifically, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett — who is term-limited in Knox County — has not ruled out a bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Burchett, who was also in Scott County for Saturday evening's dinner, savors the wildcard role. He noted Saturday that no one in the room knows what he's going to do next, a statement he has made on other occasions in recent weeks.
Burchett was not among the 22 mayors endorsing Boyd on Wednesday.
On the Democratic side, former Nashville mayor Karl Dean is the only candidate who has formally declared a candidacy, although several others are said to be considering a bid.
Boyd, meanwhile, is actively building a campaign war chest. He boasted upon entering the race that "no one will be able to out-invest me . . . so I don't really have to worry about finances." He curried favor with county and municipal leaders during his stint as ECD commissioner, where he actively involved himself across the state, particularly in rural counties like Scott — a place he visited on multiple occasions.
A former Scott Countian, Amanda Martin, is actively involved in the Boyd campaign.