Kyle Seeks Attorney General’s Opinion on Succession

By Bill Dries

State Sen. Jim Kyle is asking the Tennessee Attorney General for a legal opinion on how the process will work for putting his Senate seat on the November ballot and how the Democratic and Republican nominees should be chosen.

Kyle is leaving the legislature two years into a four-year term of office after he was elected this month as a Chancery Court judge. He takes office Sept. 1 at the Shelby County Courthouse.

Because regularly scheduled primary elections for the Tennessee legislature were on the August ballot, the executive committees of both local political parties would select their nominees for a special general election on the Nov. 4 ballot.

But in seeking the legal opinion, Kyle cites “the confusion and the ambiguity of the statute” that governs how the process works.

Democratic Party leaders have debated who on the executive committee can vote on the party’s nominee, whether it takes a majority or plurality and what happens if a state House member gets the nomination. All state House members are on the November ballot already.

“I believe it is best for everyone to have a review of the statute from the highest legal authority in the state,” Kyle said in a written statement Friday, Aug. 22. “There are a great number of well-meaning people who will be involved in this process and I feel that an opinion from the attorney general will be most valuable as we move forward in selecting someone.”