McCormick drops bid for re-election, says he’ll resign House seat effective Oct. 1

Republican state Rep. Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga says he will resign his House District 26 seat effective Oct. 1 and withdraw immediately as a candidate for re-election, reports the Times Free Press. The former House majority leader said he decided to leave the legislature after 14 years to take a new job based in Nashville.

“A professional position with Asa Engineering and Consulting, a Chattanooga-based company, requires me to relocate to Nashville to grow the firm’s new office,” said the former House majority leader and current Finance Subcommittee chairman stated to the Times Free Press. “My plan was to run for re-election and I believe the voters of the 26th District would return me to Nashville to continue representing them in the Tennessee General Assembly. Being able to assist Asa, a women-owned firm, expand its business in the broader Nashville/Davidson County market is a great opportunity.”

The move has major ramifications for the District 26 contest. McCormick said his resignation opens a seven-day opportunity for Republicans who live in the district and have an interest in the seat to qualify for the Aug. 2 GOP primary ballot.

It also could impact the expected battle among GOP lawmakers to replace retiring House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, who is running for governor.

The 56-year-old, who works as a real estate broker and developer, had been interested in pursuing the chamber’s No. 1 job, as have current Majority Leader Glen Casada, R-Franklin; House Speaker Pro Tempore Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, and Assistant Majority Leader David Hawk, R-Greeneville.

In making his decision to not seek re-election, McCormick, who is on the Aug. 2 GOP primary ballot, said he consulted with Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery. The state’s top lawyer told him law allows candidates to officially withdraw 45 days before the primary election. Potential candidates for the Republican nomination have seven days to gather signatures of 25 registered voters in order to qualify for the August ballot.

McCormick, who previously served three terms in the House’s No. 2 leadership slot as majority leader, said the decision was in no way tied to the Aug. 4, 2017, purchase of a $487,032 home in Nashville by he and his wife, Kim McCormick, a top aide to Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora Tydings. Kim McCormick spends most of her time in the state capital.

The purchase recently triggered a controversy — McCormick blames Democrats for it — over his legal residency, although he still owns a home on Big Ridge. State Election Coordinator Mark Goins said that while a loan document listed the Nashville home as the McCormicks’ “principal residence,” the lawmaker’s continued ownership of the Big Ridge home, latest federal income tax filing, local business and tax filings, various McCormick licenses, purchase receipts, and other documents show he spent most of his time in Hamilton County outside of the annual legislative session.

“It did not have anything to do with that,” McCormick said. “That actually put me off for a few days because I didn’t want it to appear [so].”

It wasn’t immediately clear what Republicans may seek McCormick’s seat now that there is an opening in the GOP-leaning district. But former Tennessee Republican Chairman Robin Smith lives in the district as does Tony Sanders, a Unum executive who hosts a weekly outdoors radio program, serves on the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission and is on the executive committee of Tennessee Friends of National Rifle Association.

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