Steine, Garrett, Briley, Crafton weigh runs for Haynes' open state senate seat

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 12:08am

Barely 72 hours after longtime Democratic state Sen. Joe Haynes announced he wouldn’t run for re-election, a gaggle of local politicos from both sides of the aisle confirmed Monday they are considering running for his open District 20 seat.

Among Democrats pondering runs are At-large Councilmen Tim Garrett, Ronnie Steine, rookie District 4 Councilman Brady Banks and former At-large Councilman David Briley, a Nashville attorney who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Nashville in 2007.

“I’m thinking about it, and talking to my family about it,” Briley said.

Attorney Kevin Doherty is also exploring a Democratic run, according to multiple sources. The City Paper was unable to reach Doherty for comment.

Another name to watch is attorney Dewey Branstetter, a Bellevue resident and former Metro school board member who confirmed he’s interested in seeking the Democratic nomination for the open senate seat. “I am thinking about it,” he said. “I have not committed to do it or not to do it at this point.”

On the Republican-side confirmations are fewer, but interest is expected to pick up. Steve Dickerson, a physician who lost to Democratic state Sen. Douglas Henry in 2010, has already announced his Republican candidacy for the District 20 senate seat.

Meanwhile, former Councilman Eric Crafton, who lost a bid for an at-large council seat in the fall, confirmed Monday he’s considering running as a Republican for Haynes’ seat. “I haven’t made up my mind yet,” Crafton said. “It is interesting.”

David Hall, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper’s Republican challenger two years ago, has pulled papers to run for Haynes’ seat as a Republican.

Both parties view District 20, which includes dramatically different political terrain following redistricting, as an opportunity for a win. For Democrats, retaining the seat is likely essential to holding their ground in a body where Republicans already have a 20-to-13-seat advantage.

Republicans see a chance to pick up a senate seat in heavily Democratic Davidson County. Last month’s GOP-led redistricting process placed Haynes, a Goodlettsville Democrat, in a vastly altered district with West Nashville neighborhoods –– parts of Oak Hill, Forest Hills and Belle Meade, for example –– where Republicans traditionally perform well.

Garrett, who served as a Democratic state representative from 1984 to 2004, resides in Goodlettsville, and could perhaps hold some of Haynes’ support in the northern part of the county.

“You never say never,” Garrett said. “People have asked me to consider [running for the seat] if Joe retired for the past couple of years or so. It’s a tremendous honor to have your name bounced around.”

Steine, a second-term at-large councilman and former vice mayor, has been a fixture in Metro politics for years. He said he would likely make a decision on a state senate run by the end of the week.

“Mostly I’m intrigued by those who have asked me if I have an interest in it,” Steine said. “The threshold for me is deciding if I have an interest in serving on the state level when they seem to accomplish so much less than we do on the local level.”

Banks, elected to his council seat in September, is seen as a rising star in Democratic circles. “It’s something I’ll certainly consider over the next few days,” Banks said of a senate run.

Another intriguing name bandied around for the senate’s District 20 seat is Metro Councilwoman Emily Evans, whose District 23 on the council includes parts of Belle Meade and West Meade

Observers have discussed Evans running as a Democrat or as a Republican.

“I’m concentrated on my service to the city of Nashville,” Evans said when asked about her interest.

At-large Councilman Charlie Tygard, who resides in Bellevue, had emerged on the radar as a possible Republican candidate, but he told The City Paper he has no interest in serving in state government.

“My interest has always been in local politics –– not at the state or national level,” Tygard said.

Attorney Jeff Yarbro is also the subject of chatter as a potential Democratic senate candidate. Yarbro, who currently lives in a different senate district, narrowly lost to Henry in the 2010 Democratic primary.

The qualifying deadline to run for state offices is April 5. Party primaries are Aug. 2. The general election is set for Nov. 6.

5 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 2/7/12 at 7:23

Just the thought of an "open seat" sends a very bizarre thrill up the thighs
of the political minded! It will take lots of special interest money to support
the possible 40 candidates within the two primaries for this seat!

By: Rocket99 on 2/7/12 at 8:20

It's already bad enough in Tennessee politics at the state level. All we need is Eric Crafton to make it worse.

By: yogiman on 2/7/12 at 8:37

Politics has gotten into being too much of a career opportunity. Its past time for term limits to be set.

Too many politicians have reached the attitude of being the public's employers instead of the public's employees.

By: Ask01 on 2/8/12 at 2:30

I have a suggestion. Building on an idea suggested by an acquaintance, load the names of all registered voters in the affected district into a hopper and pull one out. At the very least, the result should provide laughs and chuckles and might paralyze the state legislature preventing any further harm to the electorate. At best, we might discover a true patriot who will totally embarrass the political machine by exposing their incompetence.

I am allowed to dream, am I not?

By: WickedTribe on 2/8/12 at 3:22

Eric Crafton needs to give up. How many political positions does he have to run for and lose before he figures out he'll never win any elected office again? Move on.