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Former Nashville mayor, Democrat Karl Dean running for governor, stops in our region

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It's a crowded race on the Republican side to fill Tennessee governor Bill Haslam's seat.

Five Republicans have already thrown in their hat for a bid. But so far, just two Democrats have entered the race. One of them is in our area this week.

Former Nashville mayor Karl Dean said in politics, experience matters. That's why he's hoping his time as mayor from 2007-2015 will give him an upper hand in this race.

Dean said he's focused on economic growth and public education. Tuesday afternoon, he had a roundtable to talk about standardized testing and teacher pay.

Dean also spoke about access to healthcare. He believes if that improves, so would efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.

According to Dean, Tennessee is second in the country in hospital closures. There have been nine in the last year.

As he tours our region, the former mayor hopes to appeal to both Democrats and Republicans. He said he applauds a lot of things Governor Haslam has done, including the Improve Act and Tennessee Promise.

"There are Republicans that share my interest in being practical, common sense, actually getting things done, and moving the state forward," Dean said. "And I think appealing to them, I'll do the same way I'd appeal to Democrats."

Dean has already visited nearly 60 counties across the state. In four months, he's raised $1.2 million for his campaign.

This is expected to be the most expensive race in Tennessee history.

Other candidates in this race include, on the Democratic ticket: House Minority leader Craig Fitzhugh.

On the Republican side: businessmen Randy Boyd and Bill Lee, House Speaker Beth Harwell, State Senator Mae Beavers and Congresswoman Diane Black.

The primary election on August 2 will narrow down the candidates. Then the general election is November 6, 2018.

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