Knoxville businessman and baseball team owner Randy Boyd has officially announced his 2018 candidacy for governor.
The move comes after the longtime philanthropist and Republican stepped down as the state’s economic and community development commissioner to return to the private sector.
“There is not a better time to live and work in Tennessee, but not everyone is sharing in that success. So my campaign will be about expanding opportunities for every Tennessee family and community,“ Boyd said in a news release announcing his campaign. “The opportunity for a better education - the opportunity for better jobs – and a better opportunity for everyone, regardless of where you live, whether you’re from rural Tennessee, the inner city, or somewhere in between. That’s how I’ve tried to serve in the past, and that is my vision for an even greater, more successful Tennessee.”
Incumbent Republican Gov. Bill Haslam is term-limited and leaves office after 2018.
In an interview last month with WBIR 10News, Boyd said most people were encouraging him to run, so it was something he was considering.
“There are so many things Governor Haslam has started like the ‘Drive to 55,’ like the commitment to helping our rural communities. I want to make sure that momentum continues. If I were to run, it would be to make sure that happened,” Boyd said.
On Monday, Boyd echoed that motivation, telling 10News that it will take "bold, new innovative ideas" to achieve the goals set out in Drive to 55.
"If we continue on the current path doing all the great things we are doing, we will fall short," he said.
Other top Republicans rumored to make a run at the job include two members of the U.S. Reps. – Diane Black and Marsha Blackburn – and state Speaker of the House Beth Harwell.
In addition, state Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, has filed the paperwork to run.
On the Democratic side, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has announced his candidacy, and Nashville businessman Bill Freeman is rumored to join the fray.
Boyd heads Radio Systems Corp., which he created, develops area real estate and also owns the Tennessee Smokies AA baseball team. He also chairs tnAchieves, the partner organization to Tennessee Promise.
Haslam, a former Knoxville mayor, tapped Boyd in 2013 to serve as a special adviser in higher education, part of a strategy to boost post-secondary training of the state's workforce.
Haslam has previously credited Boyd with bringing some 50,000 jobs to the state and $11 billion in capital investments.
In 2013, Boyd served as the special advisor on higher education to the state where he spearheaded the Drive to 55 initiative and Tennessee Promise.
Boyd credited Haslam with inspiring him to run for governor.
"He's my inspiration. I would not be running for office if not for him. Here's a guy that could be doing anything in the world he wants to do or nothing in the world he wants to do and he is giving himself to the state of Tennessee free of charge, and I want to follow in his footsteps," Boyd said.
Boyd said that, like Haslam, he would not accept a salary if elected governor.
Boyd also announced the team helping run his campaign, including: Chip Saltsman, Scott Niswonger, Culver Schmid, Alice Rolli, John Crisp, and Bonnie Brezina.
Boyd made his first campaign stop in Cleveland on Monday. He said he plans to take his campaign to all of Tennessee's 95 counties.
The gubernatorial general election is set for November 2018.