- Associated Press - Friday, July 27, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Three Democrats are seeking the nomination to replace Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, with former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and state House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh in contention.

Fitzhugh faces an uphill battle because Dean has outspent him $4.4 million to $984,800 and has topped Fitzhugh in fundraising ninefold.

The winner will face off against the Republican nominee and more than two dozen independent candidates in November.

The four Republicans in the mix are former state economic development Commissioner Randy Boyd, U.S. Rep. Diane Black, state House Speaker Beth Harwell and businessman Bill Lee.

Haslam, a Republican, is hitting his two-term limit.



Here is a look at the candidates:

KARL DEAN

Dean served two terms as mayor of Nashville from 2007 to 2015. He has touted his work navigating the recession and recovering from a 2010 flood as mayor, while operating in a business-friendly manner to usher in dramatic growth for city. Previously, he served as former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell’s director of law and was the city’s elected public defender from 1990 to 1998. Dean has promoted himself a moderate and a pragmatist who will work with lawmakers from both parties to get things done.

CRAIG FITZHUGH

Fitzhugh was tapped to become state House minority leader in 2011 and has served as a member of the Tennessee House since 1995. The Ripley resident has worked under two Republican and two Democratic governors and under different legislative party majorities. Fitzhugh currently serves as chairman and CEO of the Bank of Ripley and also has practiced law. Fitzhugh points to his long record of legislative work, including bipartisan efforts, and support from the Tennessee State Employees Association, Tennessee Education Association and progressive groups.

MEZIANNE VALE PAYNE

Payne is a nurse from Gainesboro who is focusing on legalization of medical marijuana in Tennessee after her first husband died of leukemia in the late 1980s. Her website says she does not want to expand or reduce gun rights, or expand or decrease abortion access in the state. Payne has reported not raising or spending any money for her bid.

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