Could Tennessee make history in 2018 with voters given a choice between two women for governor?
Sara Kyle is being touted as the Democratic nominee against Gov. Bill Haslam next year and she says she’s thinking about it. Defeating a popular, wealthy incumbent would be an uphill battle for Kyle. But it would position her for a strong bid next time around when Haslam leaves office. House Speaker Beth Harwell is widely perceived to be the strongest GOP candidate in the race to replace Haslam.
Kyle is the niece of former Gov. Frank Clement and longtime state Sen. Anna Belle Clement O’Brien. Former Congressman Bob Clement is her cousin. (Are there any remnants left of the once powerful Clement machine?) She is also married to state Sen. Jim Kyle, the Senate Democratic Leader. She was elected statewide to the Public Service Commission before it was renamed the Tennessee Regulatory Authority and made an appointed position. She left it in the past few months when it was made a part-time position.
Harwell is the former chair of the state GOP, has served in the House for 25 years and is the state’s first woman Speaker of the House.
In another twist, it has long been thought in political circle’s that former state Sen. Jamie Woodson might seek the governor’s office when Haslam is term-limited.