State Rep. Eric Watson in the race for Bradley County sheriff

State Rep. Eric Watson in the race for Bradley County sheriff

October 4th, 2013 by Judy Walton in Local - Breaking News

Eric Watson

Eric Watson

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

State Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, wants to trade his legislative ID for a different kind of badge: He's running for sheriff.

Watson said at a luncheon today in Cleveland that he will not seek reelection to the House District 22 seat he's held since 2006 and instead will challenge incumbent Jim Ruth in the May 2014 Republican primary.

"I'm proud of my accomplishments in Nashville, but I will not seek another term," Watson said. "More and more, I've realized we have problems closer to home -- problems that cannot be properly addressed from Nashville. ...

"Communities can't grow if citizens feel unsafe in their homes or worry about the welfare of their families. Now, more than ever, Bradley County needs a strong, energized sheriff who has earned the trust of his deputies and will focus on moving our sheriff's office forward. It is time to provide a stable work environment for those employees, while providing a consistent high level of service to our community."

Watson served in the Bradley County Sheriff's Office for 12 years and left as a captain in 2011.

The prospect of an open House seat will likely pump even more heat into what should be an already lively election season.

Besides the four-year county elections, judges, district attorneys and public defenders, elected on an eight-year cycle, are up next year.

Circuit Court Judge Carroll Ross has said he won't seek reelection. So has District Attorney Steve Bebb, who's the subject of ongoing state House and Senate investigations.

Republican Steve Crump, who lost to Bebb in 2006, is the only person who has filed campaign documents for the position.