NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Democrat Craig Fitzhugh is joining the race for Tennessee governor.

The banker and attorney from Ripley tells The Tennessean that he will draw on his 23 years of experience as a state lawmaker, most recently as House minority leader and previously as chairman of the powerful House Finance Committee.

“There’s some things that I think we can do better,” Fitzhugh said. “That’s why I’m in it.”

Fitzhugh joins former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean in the race for the Democratic nomination. While Dean has already raised $1.2 million and has his own personal wealth to draw on, Fitzhugh has a closer relationship with labor and teachers unions.

Fitzhugh is also the only gubernatorial candidate from either party from West Tennessee.

“The problems and the situations that people in North Nashville and south Memphis find themselves in are not much different than those in Ripley, or Columbia or Etowah or other communities,” Fitzhugh said. “There are things that we can do to give people an opportunity to better their lives.”

Fitzhugh, 67, is CEO and chairman of the Bank of Ripley. He was a captain in the U.S. Air Force from 1976 to 1980 and served in the reserves until 1988. He and his wife, Pam, have two children and four grandchildren.

Fitzhugh’s campaign treasurer is John Morgan, the former state comptroller and chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Former Gov. Phil Bredesen was the last Democrat to win a statewide Tennessee race in 2002.

“I think there’s a dissatisfaction among Democrats because Democrats aren’t as bold as they used to be,” Fitzhugh said. “Sometimes they don’t want to admit they are Democrats, and I think sometimes we’ve had the issues wrong.”

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam can’t run again next year because of term limits. Declared GOP candidates so far include state Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet, U.S. Rep. Diane Black of Gallatin, businessman Randy Boyd of Knoxville, state House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville and businessman Bill Lee of Franklin.


Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com