NASHVILLE - Two top state House Republican leaders today asked Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, to run for his House seat instead of making a bid for the soon-to-be open Senate District 10 seat.
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, and House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, said that while they understand Dean's interest in new challenges, they would prefer Dean, the House floor leader and chairman of an important Transportation subcommittee, to remain in the House.
In an interview, Dean, a former East Ridge mayor who had been strongly leaning toward a Senate race, said, "I'm going to take the rest of this weekend and weigh out my options. The leadership has asked me to stay in the House because of my seniority, because of my leadership positions."
He said he was "humbled and honored" that his House colleagues "are making a plea for me to stay."
McCormick said in a prepared statement that Dean "has earned the respect of everyone on the Hill. Now he wants to take those principles to the Senate and I will support whatever decision he makes."
But he added, "we need his strong conservative voice with us. ... If he remains in the House, it would be a victory for Chattanooga, our state, and I would consider it the first triumph for the GOP in the 2012 election."
Harwell said Dean "has a unique command of the issues and knows how to get the job done on behalf of Tennesseans. Beyond that, I consider him a valuable friend whose advice is something I would hate to lose from the House."
Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, announced earlier this week that he would not seek reelection to the 10th District as he weighs a bid for mayor of Chattanooga in 2013.
The district leans Republican as a result of new redistricting maps approved in January by the Republican-controlled General Assembly. Businessman Greg Vital is also looking at the GOP Senate primary.
Meanwhile, East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert is considering a Republican primary bid for the state House District 30 seat, now held by Dean. David Grohn also recently picked up a qualifying petition.