The surprise resignation of state Sen. Jamie Woodson, R-Knoxville, has thrown local politics into turmoil. (Woodson is said to be making well into six figures in her new gig as CEO of an education think tank.) Members of the local delegation and others are urging state Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, to run for the seat in a special election to be held this fall. Dunn has refused to commit thus far. He has children going off to college in the fall and doesn’t want to spend the summer campaigning. He is also happy with the current situation in the state House. After years of beating his head against the wall in the minority, the Republicans now have a huge majority. Dunn the back-bencher is now a committee chair.
But until Dunn makes a decision, he freezes the field. Should he announce he definitely is not running, then the floodgates will open. State Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, has said he isn’t running, but if Dunn takes himself out he may reconsider. Any House member who does run in the special election will not lose his current House seat should he lose. Incumbent House members are not likely to ask County Commission for the interim appointment until the election, because they would have to give up their current office.
State Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, would be a popular candidate, but he is not yet 30 years old, a requirement for Senate office.
If no member of the legislative delegation decides to run, some current County Commissioners may enter the race. Dave Wright, Mike Hammond, or Ed Shouse, for instance. Also, Bud Armstrong, who lost an at-large Commission race last year, might look at it.
Should Brooks run, look for former County Commissioner Greg “Lumpy” Lambert to go for the resulting House seat. He has rental property in several districts and is prepared to move.