GOP Field Shrinks As Mae Beavers Drops Bid For Governor | Nashville Public Radio

GOP Field Shrinks As Mae Beavers Drops Bid For Governor

Jan 30, 2018

This year's race for governor has one less contender.

Mt. Juliet Republican Mae Beavers announced on Facebook Tuesday that she's suspending her campaign. The move follows signs that the former state senator had been lagging far behind the other top Republicans.

"After criss-crossing the state and meeting thousands of fellow Tennesseans, it was not a light decision to make because you have embraced our conservative message whole-heartedly; however, it is the right choice to make," Beavers wrote on her campaign page. "Also, I know entering the race has not been in vain as many of my heart-felt issues are now talking points of other candidates."

Before announcing her candidacy for governor, Beavers had served more than two decades in the legislature — first as a state representative from Wilson County, then as senator for a district that also included Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon and Smith counties. She garnered a following by championing conservative causes, especially gun rights and opposition to LGBT people.

But the polls showed she wasn't well known outside Middle Tennessee, and she didn't have the money to catch up. Beavers raised a little more $200,000 for her campaign last year, according to state records, while some of her Republican competitors have already committed millions of dollars of their own.

Her decision to drop out probably helps Congressman Diane Black the most. The two have been prominent supporters of President Donald Trump, including on immigration, and they both sponsored the state's anti-abortion constitutional amendment.

Black's campaign issued a statement praising Beavers:

"While Mae and I don't always agree on tactics, we have always agreed on philosophy, and I've always known her to be a dedicated conservative who fights for what she believes in. From our time in the state legislature fighting to protect the unborn and to stop a state income tax, we know the conservative movement is stronger when we are fighting for the same cause together. I wish Mae the best and hope that she will continue to be active in the fight in Tennessee."

Beavers says she plans to retire from politics, and the decision to drop out of the race does seem to be the end of Beavers' political career. She gave up her seat in the state Senate last year in order to run full-time for governor. It's now occupied by one of her closest political allies, state Sen. Mark Pody.

It's been nearly 10 months since the last prominent GOP contender exited the race. State Sen. Mark Green suspended his bid for governor when he was nominated but never confirmed to be Secretary of the Army. Green is now running for Congress representing Tennessee's 7th District.