MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis City Council member JB Smiley Jr. said Wednesday that he is running for Tennessee governor.
Smiley, a Democrat, made the announcement in a video on social media. He also held an event at the Orpheum theater in Memphis.
In the video, the 34-year-old lawyer said he supports community policing, violent crime prevention programs and vocational training for high school students. He also said he supports vaccination efforts against the coronavirus.
Current Republican Gov. Bill Lee won the seat in 2018 over Democrat Karl Dean. Lee has said he's running for reelection and currently only faces one other GOP candidate — Curtis Carney, owner of the Nashville-based Off The Wagon Tours.
Republicans have held the Tennessee gubernatorial seat since 2012. Republicans also control both Tennessee U.S. Senate seats, the majority of the congressional districts and a supermajority in both chambers of the General Assembly.
Born and raised in Memphis, Smiley went to law school at the University of Arkansas and was elected to the Memphis City Council in 2019. Smiley chairs the council's public works, transportation and general services committee.
Other Democrats in the race include Nashville-area doctor Jason Martin, Memphis community leader Carnita Atwater and Casey Nicholson, an ordained minister from Greenville.