Sunday, October 16, 2005

HENRY MAY BE G.O.P. CANDIDATE

Posted By on Sun, Oct 16, 2005 at 4:00 AM

Jim Henry to declare for governor?
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That’s the word from some Republican Party sources who have grown weary of waiting for state Rep. Beth Halteman Harwell of Nashville to declare – leaving the way open for Henry, a former legislator himself, to become the approved GOP opponent for Democratic incumbent Phil Bredesen next year.

”Whichever one of them goes first will be the candidate,” said one well-placed Republican activist, having just heard some positive rumblings from Henry, who hails from Kingston in East Tennessee and once upon a time was the House Republican leader. Henry reportedly confided his intentions to seek the governorship and to make his announcement “within a week or two.”

Of course, Harwell herself, who at one time was considered a candidate for U.S. senator, had for some weeks been passing on such hints about a possible gubernatorial race and hasn’t yet delivered on them.

Yet a third GOP prospect is the party’s leader in the Senate, Ron Ramsey of Blountville, who, like Harwell, has seemed to grow progressively more reluctant to challenge Bredesen. The governor may have arrested what has been a dip in his once lofty approval ratings. Bredesen had lost ground in recent polling due to apparent dissatisfaction with his budget-driven cuts in the TennCare rolls.

Henry ran second to then congressman Van Hilleary in the 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary. He subsequently had a bout with cancer but has been disease-free for the last two years.

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