Four Republicans eye run for House District 26 seat where McCormick is resigning

Ron Harr, former Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce president and a retired vice president of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Tuesday picked up papers to qualify as a candidate in the House District 26 seat where former House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick has announced he will resign, reports the Times Free Press.

Three others said they are talking to each other — and hoping to talk to Harr, who was out of town — about settling on a consensus candidate and avoiding a contested primary. All said they expect to decide this week.

They are Robin Smith, former Tennessee Republican Party chair and two-time Hamilton County Republican Party chair who runs a consulting and project management company; Tony Sanders, an Unum executive and radio host who also served two terms as county party chair, and Greg Martin, a Realtor who holds the District 3 seat on the Hamilton County Commission.

All three told the Times Free Press on Tuesday they are considering a run. But Sanders said they all have a lot of decisions to make very quickly.

“It’s a complicated situation for all of us. We didn’t have time to plan for it,” he said. “It’s not that none of the three of us aren’t capable, it’s not that the three of us don’t want to do it, it’s that we’re having to make a decision in a seven- to 10-day window. We all talked yesterday and agreed that a bitter primary wouldn’t serve us well. We’re hoping to put a name out there.”

For instance, Sanders would have to give up his hard-earned seat on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency board, he said.

Smith said she would need clearance from the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance because her business does some political work.

Martin is seeking re-election to the county commission and has a young family.

All three said they’ve worked closely together in the Republican Party.

“We’re great friends,” Smith said “It’s not going to benefit anyone to have a divisive primary.”

Martin acknowledged the unity talks but had his own take on Smith’s statement.

“People in politics love uncontested races but it’s probably better for democracy when there’s competition,” he said.

And Smith added that “if [Harr] runs and I decide to run, we’ll just have a spirited primary.”

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