Sen. Mae Beavers has just completed her press conference in which she made the surprise announcement that she's not running for Wilson County mayor after all but will instead seek reelection and try to beat the crap out of her nemesis Rep. Susan Lynn in the political grudge match of the century.
Despite persistent questioning from reporters trying to force the senator to say that she hates Lynn's guts, Beavers kept to the high road during her media event and came across as polite and genteel and not at all like the vicious, spiteful banshee of her public image.
In attendance at the presser were A.J. McCall, who dropped out of the GOP Senate race for Beavers' seat earlier, plus 10 Republican state senators and Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver. In Weaver's hand, you could almost see the bloody knife she had plunged into Lynn's back. Here's the Pith transcript:
Beavers: It's been a long year for me and I've thought about this long and hard. Over the last few weeks, I've really been in prayer that I would make the right decision about what my future should be. Along with my family, we've decided that the right thing for us to do is to run for the Senate this year. I feel like we've been able to accomplish a lot in the Senate. As I've listened to all of the candidates for governor who have come to my county, I've really been pumped up. With a Republican governor, with a Republican majority, we can accomplish a lot in this state. I want to be a part of that. I've enjoyed serving as Judiciary chair and I appreciate my leadership giving me a chance to do that.
But after I indicated that I might run for county mayor, I had calls from all over my district, from Clay, Cannon, DeKalb, Macon, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale and Wilson counties asking me to stay in the Senate. They thought they had good representation and they wanted me to continue to represent them. Once again, the decision did not come easy but it was based on my desire to serve the people of my district and the people of my district calling on me to do so. I feel like I'm doing the right thing. That's always been my goal is to vote right and to represent the people of my district and just to do the right thing based on the principles that I believe in of limited government and no federal intrusion into our government in the state of Tennessee. So I'm honored to officially announce today that I'll be a candidate for my Senate seat again for District 17.
Q: There's a lot of speculation this morning that this is motivated in part by your dislike for Rep. Lynn. Is that a fact?
Beavers: That had nothing to do with it.
Q: Would you acknowledge that you and Rep. Lynn have testy relations?
Beavers: You know what, I'm perfectly willing to work with any member of the legislature. I try to be professional and just do my job of representing my people.
Q: Why were you running for county mayor in the first place?
Beavers: I had a lot of people in the county who were concerned about Wilson County who thought I could provide leadership and change to the county. Those same people supported me for Senate, and they support my decision on whichever seat I chose.
Q: You and Rep. Lynn have a lot of the same stances on the issues. How will you differentiate yourselves?
Beavers: Well, um, we don't have exactly the same voting record. There are some issues that we've disagree on, so I'm sure there are going to be some things out there that we can run on.
Q: Like what? What issues do you disagree about?
Beavers: Um, I don't really want to get into all of the campaign issues right now. Today is just a day for me to have my constituents down to announce that I'm running again. We'll be getting into those issues as the campaign goes forward if she decides to stay in.
Q: You said the senators here, I count about nine of them, are here in support of you. Has the caucus decided to support one candidate before the primary has been conducted?
Beavers: No, they have not. I'm a sitting senator and I appreciate them being here in support.
Q: But this is not an endorsement?
Beavers: No, and you probably don't know but I've never asked another politician to endorse me and I don't endorse another politician. I think that's just good campaign sense.
Q: Would you be running if A.J. McCall were still in the race?
Beavers: That's a good question. I don't know. He's not in the race, so that's not even an issue.
Q: Is there a specific reason you decided not to run for county mayor?
Beavers: As I explained earlier, I feel like my work's not done up here. I've enjoyed my Judiciary Committee this last year, and I look forward to accomplishing a lot more things with that committee and other areas of state government.