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Brent Leatherwood, executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party, answers questions during a legislative preview session held by The Associated Press and the Tennessee Press Association on Feb. 5, 2015, in Nashville.

NASHVILLE — Brent Leatherwood, the executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party, is telling GOP State Executive Committee members that he's joining the race to succeed Chairman Ryan Haynes, who recently announced he doesn't intend to pursue a second term.

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In his letter sent today to SEC members, who determine who is chairman, Leatherwood, first made executive director under prior Chairman Chris Devaney of Lookout Mountain's tenure,  state GOP is "primed to continue the success we all want and expect in the 2018 election cycle.

"That said, success is not going to happen on its own. As the stewards of our Party, you understand that it takes a strong vision and a commitment to turn it into reality to be victorious in the political realm."

He noted that since becoming executive director, state Republicans have elected nearly 800 Republicans across the state, including statewide nominees, legislative delegates and "our unprecedented Red to the Roots" campaign directed at county-level offices.

"I believe my record shows that, even in the midst of turbulent moments, I was able to keep our focus on winning the races we engaged in," Leatherwood said.

Haynes, who narrowly won the chairmanship 18 months ago, has come under some criticism.

Bill Giannini, a deputy commissioner in the state's Economic and Community Development Department, and SEC member Scott Golden, have already announced chairman bids.

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