MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) – Before a crowd dotted with private security and sprinkled with protesters, longtime Wilson County state lawmaker Mae Beavers formally became the third Republican to enter the 2018 governor’s race in Tennessee.
Beavers, who first served in the House and now in the Senate, told the crowd at Charlie Daniels Park in Mt. Juliet that she wanted to be that conservative voice which is not always heard by her party.
“Conservatives in this state are starving for bold leadership,” she said before the crowd that may have numbered close to two hundred counting two dozen or so protesters.
The supporters cheered loudly when Beavers mentioned her recent sponsorship of controversial bills such as the Natural Marriage Defense Act and the so-called “bathroom bill” to “keep grown men out of little girls’ restrooms.”
Protesters at times during the past session have sat outside her legislative office in response to those bills which prompted her use of private security.
Sen. Beavers also spoke of repealing the state gas tax increase which was part of Republican Governor Bill Haslam’s IMPROVE Act that recently passed to help fund new roads.
That got another cheer from the crowd as did her mention of pushing for “full constitutional carry” of firearms in Tennessee.
Beavers, who was among Donald Trump’s earliest legislative supporters, has been criticized by protesters for blocking some users from her private Twitter account, but afterwards told reporters a campaign Twitter account will be set up for full access.
Former state economic development commissioner Randy Boyd and Franklin businessman Bill Lee are the other two announced Republican candidates.
TN House Speaker Beth Harwell, TN Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris and congressional member Diane Black are considered likely candidates who have not announced yet.