Former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced Thursday he is not running for the U.S. Senate.
Haslam, who was openly contemplating a senate bid, had been quiet about his aspirations to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander after leaving the governor's office this year.
But, in a statement released Thursday morning, Haslam said running for U.S. Senate was not his “calling.”
“There is no question that this is an important time in our nation’s history,” Haslam said. “This is a difficult decision because I have loved my time in public service, and I believe so deeply in the importance of our political process.”
Haslam’s decision opens the door to other Republicans to run. Many have been waiting on the two-term governor and former Knoxville mayor given his popularity and wealth, which would allow him to outspend virtually any candidate.
U.S. Representative Mark Green, who had been speculated to run, said he doesn’t plan to leave the U.S. House.
“I’ve been honored and humbled by everyone asking me to run for the U.S. Senate,” Green said in a statement to supporters Thursday. “As Camie and I have prayed about how to best use our time and resources, I do not plan to seek election to the U.S. Senate in 2020.”
Green has been in Congress since January. He said his decision could help Republicans win back control of the U.S House of Representatives.
As of Thursday morning, Manny Sethi was the only Republican candidate running for the seat. The Vanderbilt trauma surgeon who has not held political office announced his bid last month. He says he expects more conventional candidates to emerge.
"No matter what happened, there was going to be a choice between a person who comes from the private sector, an outsider, and you were going to have someone who was sort of involved in government for a long time," he tells WPLN. "I think that's what's going to happen."
This is a developing story.