GOP leader Bill Giannini killed in I-40 traffic accident

Bill Giannini, former deputy commissioner of the state Department of Commerce and Insurance and former Shelby County Republican chairman, was killed in an Interstate 40 traffic accident between Jackson and Nashville on Thursday, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Giannini was driving near mile marker 125 when he was killed about 1:45 p.m., said Lee Mills, current chairman of the (Shelby County) Republican party.

“Bill was an outstanding individual and we have many fond memories of him,” Mills said. “I will personally remember his enthusiasm, his quick wit and his infectious smile. Bill’s work as Chairman of the Republican Party of Shelby County laid the groundwork for the successes we see today. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family during this difficult time.”

In 2011, Gov. Bill Haslam appointed Giannini deputy commissioner of the state Department of Commerce and Insurance.  He served in that position until earlier this year when he left to start his own consulting business — Nashville-based Resolve Consulting. Giannini also owned Little Italy Pizza, according to his LinkedIn social media profile.

Giannini ran unsuccessfully for executive chairman of the state Republican Party in 2016, a position eventually won by Scott Golden.

Further, from Jackson Baker:

As both GOP chairman and Election Commission chair in Shelby County, Giannini presided over periods of change and controversy.

He had made in clear in numerous recent conversations that he was thinking seriously of running next year for the state Senate seat which federal Judge-designate Mark Norris now occupies. Several friends of Giannini commented on their Facebook pages that he had made plans for seeing them in Memphis this weekend.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol said Giannini was killed on Interstate 50 when his car swerved across the median and struck another vehicle headed the other way. The other motorist was injured but survived.

Giannini’s death recalled another highway tragedy he was involved in almost five years ago exactly, during the Christmas season of 2012, when, as he passed over a rise in I-40 in Shelby County, the car he was driving collided with another vehicle that had stopped abruptly because of a chain-reaction accident in front of it. 

The car struck by Giannini then struck another stopped vehicle, resulting in a fatality. After a review by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, no one was charged in the accident.

Besides his businesses and his political and governmental work, Giannini was a talented guitarist and had often performed to local audiences, on one memorable occasion in Memphis doing an extended version of the Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Free Bird” in tandem with another musically dexterous political figure, former Arkansas governor and onetime presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. 

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