Jim Tracy becomes third TN senator to get new job through Trump administration requiring resignation from legislature

State Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Jim Tracy of Shelbyville has been named Tennessee state director of rural development by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, an appointment that will require the Republican lawmaker to step down from his Senate District 14 seat that covers Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall and Moore counties, along with part  of Rutherford County.

Perdue filled state director rural development positions in all 50 states with Trump administration appointees in an announcement Friday. He also named state directors of USDA’s Farm Services Agency, a position held in Tennessee during the Obama administration by former Democratic state Rep. Gene Davidson of Adams. The FSA Tennessee post now goes to Dennis Beavers, apparently the same Dennis Beavers who headed the Trump campaign in Alabama last year and who is identified in some media reports as a native of McMinn County, Tennessee.

The only line on Tracy in the USDA press release says this:

Jim Tracy ran a small business in a rural middle Tennessee community for 24 years before being elected to the State Senate in 2004 as an advocate for agriculture issues in the state.

The only sentence on Beavers:

Dennis Beavers brings business experience in the insurance industry, and experience serving on various boards and commissions in both Tennessee and Alabama to serve the USDA and the farmers of Tennessee.

Tracy, who fell 38 votes short of unseating U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais in the 2014 Republican primary for the 4th Congressional District seat, has run an insurance agency in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro for years.  He was first elected to the state Senate in 2004.

Under a provision of the Tennessee state Constitution (Article II, Section 26; known as ban on “dual office holding”), a “person holding any office under the authority of the United States” government is prohibited from serving in the General Assembly. Thus, Tracy is required to resign from his Senate seat.

He becomes the third Republican state senator to get a Trump administration appointment. Earlier, Trump nominated Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville as a U.S. District Court judge for West Tennessee and Sen. Doug Overbey of Maryville as U.S. Attorney for East Tennessee. Both have said they will resign in accord with the state constitutional provision  if, as expected, their appointments are confirmed by the full U.S. Senate. (Tracy’s appointment does not require confirmation.)

Republican Mae Beavers has already resigned her Senate seat to run for governor with a special election scheduled next month to fill the vacancy.

UPDATE/Note: Here’s a comment from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander on Tracy’s appointment:

“Jim Tracy has a strong record of accomplished public service and is a good friend. I’m glad President Trump appointed Jim to be Tennessee’s next USDA Rural Development State Director. Jim knows agriculture having grown up in rural Tennessee and earned a degree in agriculture education from UT Martin. I look forward to working with him to create better-paying jobs and expand economic development in rural areas. Tennessee and our nation are fortunate to have him in this position.”

One Response to Jim Tracy becomes third TN senator to get new job through Trump administration requiring resignation from legislature

  • Butch Campbell says:

    It is with sadness that I learn of the appointment of Jim Tracy to a position that will require his departure from the Tennessee State Senate. I am proud for Jim but we will miss his leadership in the state Senate. As a school board member and former public education administrator I will miss his leadership and support of public education. I wish him the best in his new endeavor.

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