State Sen. Mark Green will run for governor in 2018 and has hired President-elect Donald Trump's state director to lead his gubernatorial bid.
Dated Jan. 4, paperwork filed with the state Registry of Election Finance names a treasurer for the campaign and states Green is seeking the office for governor. The Clarksville Republican has been making fundraising stops and has been on a statewide listening tour for several weeks.
The paperwork is required to raise and spend money on a campaign.
Green told The Tennessean on Thursday he has hired Darren Morris, state director for Trump's campaign, to lead his effort to become governor. Morris was hired in September 2015 to lead Trump's campaign inside Tennessee.
Green said no formal campaign announcement would be made until after the 2017 legislative session, which convenes Tuesday.
"I don't want the session to be clouded by my run for governor," he said.
Green made 34 stops during the statewide tour, which he said confirmed his interest to succeed Gov. Bill Haslam.
"It's helped make my decision final," he said.
"I've got the skill set, experience and leadership to take Tennessee to the next level. My sense of duty will not allow me to walk away from that."
Green is the first to formally file paperwork indicating his bid for the state's highest office. The Republicans are expected to have several contenders for the GOP nomination, including others currently in the state legislature as well as potentially federal lawmakers such as U.S. Rep. Diane Black.
Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean is among top Democrats who could enter the race to oppose the GOP. Bill Freeman, a wealthy prominent Democratic fundraiser, also has not ruled out a run.
In response to Green's bid becoming public, Mary Mancini, embattled chair of the state Democratic Party, called him "an extremist" with a record against women's rights and support of discriminatory legislation.
"It’s been Senator Green’s style as a member of the Tennessee State Senate to serve himself and his own radical beliefs instead of tending to the people's business," Mancini said in a statement.
Green is an Army veteran and doctor from Clarksville. On Wednesday he filed 10 bills for the 2017 legislative session that attempt to eliminate the state privilege tax, paid by doctors and other professionals, as well as reform the state's franchise and excise tax. Though they would need to be passed, the bills could give Green's campaign a boost in talking points.
Green is the CEO of AlignMD, an emergency room management company. The company was acquired in 2015 by American Physician Partners, a Brentwood-based company, along with another company, Elite Management Services, for $24 million.
Bob Yates is listed as Green's campaign treasurer.
Reach Jake Lowary at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @JakeLowary.