NASHVILLE - Democrat Sara Kyle made it official Thursday, saying she won't run against Republican Gov. Bill Haslam in 2014.
In a statement, the former Tennessee Regulatory Authority commissioner said, "After much deliberation, I have decided not to run for governor in 2014. I have been so blessed to receive support and encouragement from thousands of my fellow Tennesseans."
Kyle had explored a candidacy during the summer, traveling the state and speaking with fellow Democrats. But little had been heard from her in recent months and one of the leaders of a draft-Kyle effort called "Run Sara Run" recently told the Times Free Press that he believed it was too late for her to mount a serious effort.
Kyle's mother is battling cancer. Meanwhile, some Democrats said they'd seen little action by Kyle on building a serious fundraising network necessary to mount an effective challenge.
It's unclear at this point whether Democrats can find a credible challenger to Haslam, who is seeking a second four-year term.
The governor continues to enjoy relatively high job approval, according to a recent Vanderbilt University poll. It found 61 percent of the 860 registered voters surveyed gave him good marks.
Haslam spokesman David Smith said the "governor's campaign will focus on his record on jobs, education and making Tennessee one of the best run states in the country."
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron in response to Kyle's announcement that "Sara Kyle's family comes first and we understand and appreciate that. Tennesseans need a governor who will put our families first, clean up state government, fight for the middle class, and help our working families get health care like the governor and other politicians and prisoners do."
Contact staff writer Andy Sher at email@example.com or 615-255-0550.