Harwell keeping ‘an open mind’ on running for governor in 2018

House Speaker Beth Harwell was keynote speaker at a Murfreesboro event promoting women’s involvement in politics, reports the Daily News Journal, but remained tight-lipped about her own future political plans – widely expected to include a 2018 run for governor.

“We are keeping an open mind,” the Nashville Republican said when asked Thursday night if her political aspirations stop at being the leader of Tennessee’s House of Representatives.

“That’s a long way off. It’s an honor to serve as speaker. … We’ll see when that time comes,” she said about the next gubernatorial election in 2018.

Harwell was in Murfreesboro serving as keynote speaker at the second annual Empowering Women Event, sponsored by state Reps. Bryan Terry and Dawn White.

The event at The Warehouse on Middle Tennessee Boulevard is part of the Republican State Leadership Committee’s “Right Women, Right Now” initiative, which is meant to encourage women to become involved at the local and state level of government, Terry said.

“Even if they can’t run for office, they can still accomplish something for their district,” said Terry, who organized and emceed the event. Terry invited White to be a co-host.

…Harwell, who is the first woman to be elected as speaker of the House in Tennessee, shared stories from her days teaching political science at Belmont University. And she reminded those gathered of Tennessee’s role in passing the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

Thanks to Tennessee being the deciding state in ratifying the amendment nearly a century ago, women have opportunities now that they would not have had, she said.

“There is absolutely room for women in the political process,” she said. “Don’t ever take for granted the impact women can have on the political process.”