Former Chattanooga Chamber president and BlueCross BlueShield executive Ron Harr said today he won't seek the Republican nomination for the District 26 state House seat.
Incumbent Rep. Gerald McCormick set off a scramble when he abruptly announced he would give up the seat he has held for 14 years, along with his hopes to be elected House speaker in January, to take a job that will require him to live in Nashville.
Harr told the Times Free Press he was out of state when he heard McCormick was dropping out. He said he feared the qualifying deadline would pass before he returned, so he asked a friend to pick up papers for him at the Hamilton County Election Commission "to keep the option open."
"I am not a political insider so I didn't know who was going to run," Harr said in an email. "Often when a political seat is vacated on short notice, an opportunity is created for a citizen-legislator. I wanted to make sure that a moderate candidate was on the ballot in this moderate district. I love my city and I would be honored to represent my home district in Nashville."
However, he added, "In the time since my papers were picked up, I learned that if I run, the FCC rules on 'Equal Time' will force me to resign from my volunteer job as the host of a public television series on public health, which I am very passionate about."
Harr hosts "Explore Health" on local station WTCI.
"Therefore, after considerable thought, I have decided that I will not run."
The only other person to pick up papers for the Aug. 2 GOP primary is Robin Smith, former Hamilton County and Tennessee Republican Party chairwoman. Qualifying ends at noon on June 28.
The GOP nominee will face Democrat David Jones in the Nov. 6 general election.