Beavers formally resigns Senate seat

Xavier Smith • Sep 5, 2017 at 8:04 PM

Former state Sen. Mae Beavers officially resigned her seat last week, according to Gov. Bill Haslam’s staff, which will set up a special election this year to fill the vacancy.

Jennifer Donnals, Haslam’s press secretary, said Haslam received Beavers’ letter Aug. 31. Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, announced a week prior she would officially resign her Senate seat next week to focus on her campaign for Tennessee governor.

Her resignation creates a vacancy in her District 17 Senate seat.

Tennessee law requires the governor to call a special election to fill a vacant Senate seat if the vacancy happens 12 months or more before the next state general election, according to Phillip Warren, Wilson County administrator of elections.

The next regular state general election will be Nov. 6, 2018, which is 14 months away.

Haslam will set the dates for the primary and general special election by signing a writ of election within 20 days the vacancy is declared, Warren said. Donnals said Haslam is expected to sign that writ within the “next week or so.”

There will be a primary and a general special election held to elect a state senator to serve the remainder of the term, which ends in 2018. The primary special election will be 55-60 days from the date of the writ of election, and the general special election will be held 100-107 days from the date of the writ. It’s likely the general election would be sometime in mid-December.

Qualifying deadlines, withdrawal deadlines and early voting dates will also be determined by the writ of election the governor issues. Wilson County will be reimbursed by the state for all costs associated with the special election. Warren said elections generally cost Wilson County about $100,000.

According to the Tennessee Constitution, the Wilson County Commission could fill the vacant Senate seat with an interim senator at its Sept. 18 meeting. If that happens, the commission would announce it will accept nominations for an interim senator Sept. 11 or at least seven days prior to the meeting. The commission would then vote on its selection for interim senator, and that person would represent District 17 until the special general election.

Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, received an endorsement from Beavers to fill her District 17 Senate seat. If Pody is elected to fill the seat, it would create a vacancy in his District 46 House seat.

The Wilson County Commission could also appoint someone to fill the District 46 vacant House seat – if Pody were to win the District 17 Senate seat in the special election – until the Nov. 6, 2018 general election when Pody’s term in the House would end, according to Warren.

When the governor sets the dates for the special election, a calendar will be created and made available at the Wilson County Election Commission office and at wilsonvotes.com. The calendar will detail all the pertinent dates and deadlines associated with the primary and general special election.

Wilson, Cannon, DeKalb, Smith, Clay and Macon counties make up the 17th Senate District. All six counties will hold special elections in the fall at the same time to elect someone to fill the vacancy, according to Warren.

To learn more about the special election, voting and how to get involved with Wilson County elections, contact the Wilson County Election Commission at 615-444-0216 or visit wilsonelections.com.

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