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December 27, 2017

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Revolving Senate Seat

November 16, 2017



On Monday, November 6, 2017 Tennessee State Senator, Jim Tracy, announced he would resign his Senate seat after being appointed by the White House to the USDA. According to the Tennessee State Constitution...


Section 10. No person shall be a senator unless he shall be a citizen of the United States, of the age of thirty years, and shall have resided three years in this state, and one year in the county or district, immediately preceding the election. No senator or representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be eligible to any office or place of trust, the appointment to which is vested in the executive or the General Assembly, except to the office of trustee of a literary institution. (italics added)


Jim had to resign, by both the Tn Constitution and the Federal Hatch Act, he could not, by law, simultaneously be an high ranking employee of the Federal government and hold an elected office.


With the next regularly scheduled general election for this Senate seat set for Nov 3, 2020, it becomes necessary to fill the seat prior to the that date. Since his announced resignation, rumors and speculations are in abundance regarding who, when, and how a replacement will be elected or appointed. Actually, rumors had begun two weeks earlier, even before Jim’s announcement was made and I was asked about what would happen if Jim quit. So, on October 24, 2017, based on that rumor that Jim was resigning, I sent an email to CTAS Consultant Doug Bodary asking for the procedure to replace a member of the state legislature.


Here is his reply:


Good timing Chuck as I had the same question from Wilson County when Mae Beavers resigned a little while back!


As noted in the attached, the county commission in the county of residency would vote for an interim to finish out the time in office if there was less then 12 months to  the next election.  In Senator Beaver's case, it was longer then 12 months to the next election, therefore the Governor called for a special election.  


An interesting event in Wilson County was that the county commission declined to appoint an interim since their special election was to be held before the next legislative session began, so they just decided to leave the senate seat vacant.  The primary for their special election is next month with the general election in December, so whoever wins this will be on board to represent the district in Nashville come January.  


Doug Bodary

County Government Consultant

The University of Tennessee

County Technical Assistance Service

226 Capitol Blvd, Suite 400

Nashville, Tennessee 37219




Doug included this earlier inquiry from him about Mae Beavers resignation:



From: Metzger, Jeffrey Michael

Sent: Wednesday, August 23, 2017 3:47 PM

To: Bodary, Doug

Subject: RE: Mae Beavers - General Assembly Vacancy


Here are the statutes (TCA 2-14-201 et seq.) and constitutional provision (Art. 2, Sec. 15). Basically if more than twelve months remain before the next election then the Governor calls for a special election. Either way, the interim until the election is appointed by the commission of the replaced legislator’s county of residence.



§ 15. Vacancies in office, TN CONST Art. 2, § 15 


West's Tennessee Code Annotated Constitution of the State of Tennessee 


Article II. Distribution of Powers Legislative Department 


TN Const. Art. 2, § 15 


§ 15. Vacancies in office 



When the seat of any member of either House becomes vacant, the vacancy shall be filled as follows: 


(a) When twelve months or more remain prior to the next general election for legislators, a successor shall be elected by the qualified voters of the district represented, and such successor shall serve the remainder of the original term. The election shall be held within such time as provided by law. The legislative body of the replaced legislator's county of residence at the time of his or her election may elect an interim successor to serve until the election. 


(b) When less than twelve months remain prior to the next general election for legislators, a successor shall be elected by the legislative body of the replaced legislator's county of residence at the time of his or her election. The term of any Senator so elected shall expire at the next general election for legislators, at which election a successor shall be elected. 


(c) Only a qualified voter of the district represented shall be eligible to succeed to the vacant seat. 



Amendment adopted in Convention Dec. 10, 1965, approved at election Nov. 8, 1966, and proclaimed by Governor Dec. 2, 1966; adopted in Convention Oct. 24, 1977, approved at election March 7, 1978, and proclaimed by Governor March 31, 1978. 

Notes of Decisions (1) 

Const. Art. 2, § 15, TN CONST Art. 2, § 15 Current through end of the 2015 First Reg. Sess. 

End of Document © 2015 Thomson Reuters. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.




West's Tennessee Code Annotated Title 2. Elections