- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is headlining the Tennessee Republican Party’s annual fundraiser in May.

Chairman Chris Devaney said Thursday that the Statesmen’s Dinner speech by the likely presidential candidate reflects that Tennessee will play a key role in the 2016 nomination process.

Devaney called Tennessee a “good place to test a message” for presidential candidates because it will be among the early states holding primaries in 2016.

Bush has been aggressively raising money as he weighs a presidential bid. His last visits to Nashville included an appearance at Vanderbilt University in October and an education discussion in March.

Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee has been named the dinner chair for the May 30 event. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was the speaker last year.

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