As word spreads this weekend that former U.S. Senator Bill Frist will not make a run for governor in 2010, the way is open for an extensive field of Republican candidates, including District Attorney General Bill Gibbons, to make expected announcements of candidacy.
A report on the chattanoogan.com Web site Saturday quoted a high Republican source as saying Frist would be announcing his non-candidacy on Monday. The former Senate Majority Leader had been regarded as a prohibitive favorite in the gubernatorial race, at least on the Republican side of things so much so that none of the other six known GOP hopefuls would have been prepared to run had he done so.
Besides Gibbons, the others are state senator Mark Norris, also of Shelby County; Blackburn; 3rd District representative Zach Wamp of Chattanooga; former state representative and ex-state GOP chair Beth Harwell of Nashville; Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey of Blountville; and Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam.
GOP national committeeman John Ryder said he, too, had heard rumors of Frist's reluctance to run several days ago, at which time Haslam, who is considered close to Frist, was scheduling an imminent fundraiser and Wamp began making plans for one of his own.