A lawmaker at the heart of a News 4 I-Team investigation will have some competition for his seat this year.
Two people tell the I-Team they plan to run for the seat currently held by Rep. David Byrd, R- Waynesboro.
Byrd is refusing to resign after three women accused him of sexual misconduct while they were teens on his basketball team more than 30 years ago.
Ignoring Republican leaders’ pleas to resign, Byrd doubled down last weekend and pledged to run for a third term.
On his Facebook, Byrd wrote: “I just wanted to let my District 71 supporters know that I WILL BE SEEKING RE-ELECTION FOR A 3rd TERM!!”
But Byrd may not be alone on the campaign trail.
Frankie Floied and Justin Warren, both of Lewis County, tell the I-Team they plan to enter the race for state House District 71.
District 71 encompasses Wayne, Hardin, Lewis and parts of Lawrence counties.
Floied, a Democrat, is a retired Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper who went on to serve as the director of the criminal investigations division within the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security in 2007.
He also worked as a criminal investigator in the Office of the District Attorney General in the 14th Judicial District.
Elections administrator Rusty Isbell said Floied picked up paperwork from the Lewis County Election Commission last Thursday, two days after the allegations surrounding Byrd became public.
But Floied denied that Byrd played any role in his decision to run.
“It alarms me, but my background tells me not to make any decisions about it based on what I hear,” said Floied, referring to the sexual misconduct allegations surrounding Byrd. “Mr. Byrd has a good reputation as far as I can tell, and I’m not certain it’s going to help me at all.”
Justin Warren picked up paperwork to run as a Democrat in January.
But Isbell said Warren inquired about running as an Independent as recently as last Wednesday.
Warren released the following statement:“Representative Byrd has been a prominent member of Wayne County and has served as our State Representative in District 71 for a few terms now. The allegations against him are very serious and have not been denied as far as I know. If his superiors and constituents are requesting his resignation, that is a decision to be had with the state Republican party. As a constituent, I would prefer him step down and save his future career. He should follow his moral compass and solve this quickly with resignation or legal action so that our district and its wonderful people are not drug through the mud. The mud slinging, name calling, stereotypes and slander of people due to political party affiliation is why I chose to run independent. I chose to run because this is what I have loved since the first time I was asked what I wanted to be growing up. I grew up on a cattle farm and have lived and loved agriculture and the lessons of hard work for prosperity. I knew young I wanted to help people and now more than never, after decades of leadership training, it is time to step up and make a difference. I believe we should vote for the person, not the party. You should never dislike or degrade a person due to the letter beside their name, there is too much squabbling, feuding and feet dragging right now for any more partisanship. If America wants the swamp drained in Washington, we have to clear our marshes out as well. Lets Write History Together!”Warren works as the business development director at Cornerstone Health Systems, according to his Facebook page.
Both Floied and Warren need to file their final paperwork before becoming qualified for the election.
Byrd did not respond to requests for comment about his campaign. Currently, no Republicans have filed to challenge Byrd in his district. His candidacy became qualified in early March, according to an elections official with the Wayne County Election Commission.
A challenger from a different party would not face Byrd until the general election in November.
The filing deadline for candidates is Thursday at noon.
The primary election happens in August, while the general election takes place in November.
Byrd ran unopposed in 2016.
In the 2014 election, Byrd defeated a primary challenger. He ran unopposed in the general election.
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