Feb 21, 2024 - Politics

Mark Green's retirement could kickstart governor's race

Mark Green

U.S. Rep. Mark Green at the U.S. Capitol last year. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

U.S. Rep. Mark Green's surprise decision last week to retire from Congress creates a Republican free-for-all for the District 7 seat, and also appears to be the first major domino to fall in the 2026 governor's race.

Between the lines: Congress members have a miserable track record of running for governor in Tennessee. As the Tennessee Journal reported last week, Reps. Diane Black in 2018, Zach Wamp in 2010 and Van Hilleary in 2002 failed to make the leap from the House to the governor's mansion.

  • With the stench of Washington, D.C., off of him, Green, who's long been viewed as a contender for governor, can turn his sights squarely to that post should he choose to run.
  • With Gov. Bill Lee term-limited, there's a lengthy list of viable candidates for the job.

What he's saying: Green, who is from Clarksville, bashed D.C. in the press release announcing his retirement. The 59-year-old has represented District 7 since 2019.

  • "Our country — and our Congress — is broken beyond most means of repair. I have come to realize our fight is not here within Washington, our fight is with Washington."

What we're watching: In addition to Green, Knox County Mayor and former WWE superstar Glenn Jacobs, U.S. Rep. John Rose, state House Speaker Cameron Sexton, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Stuart McWhorter and Secretary of State Tre Hargett are viewed as possible 2026 gubernatorial candidates.

  • The last member of Congress to successfully run for the state's top job was Don Sundquist in 1994.

Meanwhile: Green's retirement has also kicked the political rumor mill into overdrive. The district stretches from Clarksville to Williamson County and covers northern, western and southern portions of Davidson County.

The intrigue: One prominent Republican has ruled out a congressional run. Businessperson Alice Rolli, who finished second in last year's mayor's race, tells Axios she won't be running for Congress.

However, Manny Sethi, the surgeon who ran an impressive but unsuccessful Senate campaign in 2020, remains a possibility.

The bottom line: If you're a fan of Republican political gossip in Nashville, now's the time to be alive.


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