NASHVILLE - Tennessee's better-known Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates could face a quartet of nationally famous, unconventional hopefuls who've also filed petitions to run for the state's top office.
Basil Marceaux Sr., the perennial candidate from Soddy-Daisy who made the internet swoon in the 2010 governor's race over his concerns about the "gold finch flag" and a pledge to "immune you from all state crimes for the rest of you life!" is back this year as a Republican candidate.
And Mark E. Clayton, an anti-LGBT activist who in 2012 stunned Democrats by capturing their party's U.S. Senate nomination, is making a run for the party's gubernatorial nomination, according to a list of petitions on the Tennessee Secretary of State's website.
Not to be outdone, Mark "Coonrippy" Brown, who launched a one-man crusade and 2014 gubernatorial bid to publicize his quest to challenge state wildlife officials' seizure of Rebekah, his pet raccoon, is making a return engagement in 2018 as well.
Meanwhile, Ocoee restaurateur Rick Taylor, who triggered an uproar in his unsuccessful he 2016 bid in the 3rd Congressional District with a billboard saying "Make America White Again," has filed to run as an independent in the governor's race.
The four are among dozens of candidates who turned in their petitions to run by noon Thursday, the deadline for candidates to file.
Tennessee has a fairly low bar to qualify for public office compared to a number of states. All you need are the signatures of 25 qualified, registered voters. There is no fee.
And that's helped create a rich Volunteer political tradition of long-shot hopefuls seeking office.
As Clayton's 2012 example shows, a long-shot bid can occasionally hit the jackpot. He shocked state Democrats and made national news after winning the party's nomination for U.S. Senate. It became a symbol of state Democrats fall from power.
But it proved short-lived as the Democratic Party successfully bounced him off the ballot as their nominee.
The four candidates' signatures on their petitions have been approved, according to the Secretary of State's Division of Elections website.
All candidates running for state and federal offices have until next Thursday to withdraw when the state finalizes the candidates' list, said Adam Ghassemi, spokesman for Secretary of State Tre Hargett.
Major candidates who have filed petitions in the governor's race are:
* U.S. Rep. Diane Black
* Former state Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd
* State House Speaker Beth Harwell
* Franklin businessman Bill Lee
* Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean
* State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh