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Congressional candidate, Alexander counsel Shoaf dies at 71

Forrest Shoaf, an investment banker who was general counsel to Republican Lamar Alexander’s 1996 presidential campaign, has died. He was 71.

Shoaf, a West Point graduate with a Harvard law degree, planned to run for an open 5th Congressional District seat in 2002 until discovering redistricting had put his house — barely — in the 7th District.

“When I go out in the morning to get the paper, I’m in the 7th District,” Shoaf told the Memphis Flyer at the time. “When I lean over the curb to pick it up, I’m in the 5th.”

Shoaf decided to run for the 7th District but ended up coming in fifth in the Republican primary won by Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood. He later called the campaign the “biggest damn-fool mistake” of his life and a “cure for narcissism,” according to the Nashville Post. 

Shoaf was an attorney with the Nashville firm of Bass, Berry & Sims until taking leave in 1995 to serve on Alexander’s campaign.

“Forrest Shoaf was a good friend, fine attorney and a patriot,” Alexander said in a statement Wednesday. “We had fun together, especially in the New Hampshire presidential primary in 1996. 

“I can still see him up early in the morning and late at night putting up campaign signs in the snow. Honey and I send our condolences and respect for his life to his family,” he said.

Shoaf later moved on to J.C. Bradford & Co. as managing director for corporate finance. He worked in mergers and acquisitions until joining Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores Inc. in 2005 as chief legal officer. He had stepped down from his position as chief administrative office for Atlanta-based Resurgent Financial Advisors this spring due to health problems.

Shoaf mulled moving from Lebanon to the 4th District to mount a challenge to U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Sherwood) in 2014, but ultimately decided against taking the plunge. In 2014, Shoaf was named among three finalists for a state Court of Appeals vacancy, but then-Gov. Bill Haslam chose Neal McBrayer of Nashville.

Shoaf served 12 years of active duty in the Army and was a member of the English faculty at West point.