Karl Dean takes statewide tour with eye toward run for governor

Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean is traveling the state with an eye toward running for statewide political office, reports The Tennessean. Dean is most widely seen as a prospective candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2018.

He was in Chattanooga and Memphis last week to talk to leaders in both cities and has other stops planned. (Note: He has a stop scheduled June 10 in Oak Ridge; a press release HERE.)

In an interview with The Tennessean, Dean characterized these trips — and visits to other cities on the horizon — as educational and part of the process to determine whether to run for office in 2018 when two statewide seats are up for grabs.

He declined to say specifically whom he met with in Chattanooga and Memphis, calling them a “broad range of people.”

“I think for this calendar year, it’s a time for me to see whether I have something to contribute,” Dean said of a possible run for state higher office. “It’s an opportunity for me to learn more about the state and it’s also an opportunity, frankly, to see whether something like that is doable.That’s really all I’m doing.

“Going through an exercise of thinking about this is a wonderful way to get educated about different issues that face the state,” he said. “People look at things differently in different parts of the state. And there are different issues that certainly confront different parts of the state. Then you’ve got to figure out whether it’s a realistic thing to do or whether it’s the right thing or right timing for my family and myself.”

Dean, whose two terms as Nashville mayor concluded in September, is more frequently discussed as a possible Democratic candidate in 2018 in what will be an open governor’s race to replace Bill Haslam. In addition U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee — who has received recent speculation as a possible running mate for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump — will be up for re-election the same year.

Dean said he wouldn’t make a decision on his plans until sometime next year.

…Dean could be in position to self-finance at least a portion of a future campaign, having dropped more than $1 million of personal funds into his first mayoral campaign in 2007.

“That’s not something I’ve made any decisions about,” Dean said when asked about the use of personal funds in a possible campaign. “I can tell you that it will cost a lot to run for governor and have a serious campaign, and, obviously, I think you would need to raise a lot of money.”

Following his time in the mayor’s office, Dean has spent the past eight months teaching at Belmont University and Boston University, as well as chairing a new education nonprofit called Project Renaissance.