GREENEVILLE, Tenn. - State Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey has told Republicans in Greene County that he will run for governor in 2010.
Ramsey, of Blountville, would become the fourth candidate to seek the GOP nomination. Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen can't run again because of term limits.
Ramsey, 53, was given a hearty applause at a Lincoln Day dinner for saying: "I am here in Greene County to announce that I am going to be a candidate for governor," The Greeneville Sun reported for Saturday's editions.
Ramsey had previously said he planned to wait until the end of the legislative session before making up his mind. Lawmakers are barred from raising campaign contributions while the General Assembly is in session.
Others seeking the Republican nomination are Memphis prosecutor Bill Gibbons, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp of Chattanooga.
The Senate in 2007 elected Ramsey speaker, a position that also carries the title of lieutenant governor. Ramsey became the first Republican to hold that position since 1869.
Ramsey is an auctioneer and real estate agent who owns his own business in Blountville.
Ramsey told the gathering that he and his wife Sindy had "thought about this, prayed about this." They decided to forge ahead "for the right reasons," he said.
Politically unknown businessman Ward Cammack of Nashville is the only Democrat to officially join the gubernatorial race so far. Former state House Majority Leader Kim McMillan, D-Clarksville, has formed an exploratory committee, while several others have said they are considering running.