Ex-Nashville Mayor Wants to Break GOP's Streak in Tennessee

February 27, 2017 AT 11:00 AM

Karl Dean is running for governor of Tennessee in an uphill bid to become the first Democrat elected statewide in the Volunteer State since 2006.

Casting himself as a pro-business moderate focused on education and jobs, the former Nashville mayor said he made the call after consultation with family, deciding he had “a reason and purpose” to run and determining there’s a path for him to win in a state where Republicans have dominated in recent years.

Dean, mayor of Nashville from 2007 to 2015, said he intends to file paperwork Monday to appoint Calvin Anderson, a former executive of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee from Memphis, his campaign treasurer. Doing so will allow him to begin raising money for his campaign in the 2018 race to replace Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

“I don’t think you do this for the exercise and you don’t do it just to do it,” Dean told the USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee in an interview. “You do it because you’re serious about it and you want to win.

“I think in life your regrets are not doing things instead of doing things," he said. "I’ve tried to live my life that way, and that’s how I came to the decision.”

Dean, 61, is the first Democrat to enter the governor’s race and he would be the first viable candidate the party has fielded for either governor or U.S. Senate since 2010. And yet he’s not guaranteed to be the party’s nominee. Tennessee House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh and Nashville businessman Bill Freeman, a top Democratic donor, are weighing runs as well, leaving open the possibility of a contested Democratic primary in August 2018.

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