NASHVILLE (AP) — Eight candidates submitted applications with the Tennessee Supreme Court by Friday’s deadline to be considered for the next eight-year term as state attorney general.
Tennessee is the only state where the high court appoints the attorney general. The justices will make their choice after public hearings with finalists.
Incumbent Attorney General Bob Cooper, 57, whose term expires at the end of the month, is among those who have applied for the job. Others include Gov. Bill Haslam’s top legal adviser, Herbert Slatery, 62; Republican state Sen. Doug Overbey of Maryville, 59; and courts administrator Bill Young, 57.
Also submitting applications by Friday’s deadline were:
• Gino Bulso, 52, a partner with the Nashville firm Leader, Bulso & Nolan, which focuses on commercial litigation.
• Mark Fulks, 45, is an attorney with the Baker Donelson law firm’s Johnson City office, who represents clients in financial, commercial and employment matters.
• Will Helou, 36, a Nashville lawyer in private practice who previously worked as an assistant attorney general in Cooper’s office.
• Andrew Tillman, 62, a chancery court judge from Huntsville, who was appointed to bench by Haslam last year.
The applications follow a contentious — but ultimately unsuccessful — campaign spearheaded by Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey to defeat sitting Democratic justices to give Republicans control of the state’s highest court.
That campaign heavily focused on the role of Cooper’s role as attorney general, including his refusal to join a multistate legal challenge to President Barack Obama’s health care law.
Cooper prevailed among 14 applicants for the job in 2006. He previously served as legal counsel to then-Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, who appointed the three Democratic justices — Gary Wade, Sharon Lee and Cornelia Clark — who won their retention elections this month. The court’s two Republican justices, Holly Kirby and Jeff Bivins, were appointed by Haslam and didn’t have to stand for retention votes in August.
Haslam has praised Slatery’s role as his legal counsel throughout his first term in office, but has pledged to “stay out of the politics” of the selection process.
Young, who as courts administrator has the closest daily interaction with the justices, has recused himself from the application process.