Several candidates had already flocked to the open seat being vacated by state Rep. Richard Floyd.
Patsy Hazlewood, a Chattanooga businesswoman, is now among them.
Hazlewood was recently considered a leading contender to head the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, but public service is something she’s always had her eye on. If elected, she wants to focus on education and economic and workforce development in the Legislature. She sees those three issues working hand-in-hand in that job creation requires a trained workforce.
“I saw this open seat as an opportunity to be a part of that conversation at the state level,” she said.
While Floyd, the legislator she hopes to succeed, was known for strong, often-controversial statements on social issues, Hazlewood wants to focus on some of “the bigger macro issues that are going to impact the state going forward for my children and grandchildren.”
Hazlewood’s résumé is dense. With more than 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, she worked with AT&T and BellSouth in government relations. For three years, she was the Southeast director for economic development in Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration. She said in that role she helped bring an auto supplier, HP Pelzer Automotive Systems, to Athens and worked on Whirlpool’s expansion in Cleveland.
Her bid for the Republican nomination in the 27th District has already led one would-be challenger to drop out of the race.
Tom McCullough recently announced he was withdrawing his candidacy, citing Hazlewood’s political strength on Signal Mountain and ability to raise funds. He said the race would require about $75,000. He previously ran for a seat on the Chattanooga City Council but was bested by Chip Henderson in 2013.
“I’m just going to wait until the next cycle of elections and see what happens,” McCullough said of his future plans.
So far, Hazlewood has a core campaign team in place but will hold off making announcements about it until after the Hamilton County primary May 6. One of the things she will be running on is her reputation and experience in the business world. Her connections there could bolster her fundraising operation. She said some business leaders have reached out to her to offer support, financial and otherwise.
“Fundraising, as I’ve come to learn, is a huge part of this process,” Hazlewood said. “But I don’t know that there’s a magic number.”
Three other people have qualified to run for the open state House seat. Tommy Crangle and Charlie White are on the GOP ticket. Eric McRoy is running for the Democratic nomination.
The primary election is Aug. 7. The general election is Nov. 4.