Rep. David Byrd reverses course, says he will seek reelection

Posted at 12:57 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 15:16:03-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Embattled Rep. David Byrd (R – Waynesboro) has changed his mind about not running for reelection.

Byrd, who’s been accused by three women of sexually assaulting them when they were in their teens and played on a high school basketball team he coached, said in January that he would not run again.

However, Tennessee River Valley News reports that Byrd issued the following statement, saying he will seek reelection:

Byrd, who's never denied the allegations, has refused calls to step down. Governor Lee also asked Byrd not to seek re-election earlier this summer.

Speaker Cameron Sexton released a statement on Byrd's decision to run:

“Rep. Byrd’s decision to run is a decision between he and his family and the voters of District 71. Rep. Byrd has indicated he is very strong in his district in previous conversations dating back to last year. Therefore, I do not anticipate that he would need any help from me.”

Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini released the following statement:

“Last year, Governor Bill Lee, along with Republican Speaker Cameron Sexton and the entire GOP caucus, implicitly condoned Representative David Byrd’s sexual assault of three 15 to 16 year olds when they refused to take even the smallest action and ask him to resign. Governor Lee said that even though he believed the victim, he wouldn’t take definitive action. It’s clear that David Byrd is not taking personal responsibility for his actions and that leaders in his own party have to make him do the right thing.

Today, the first day of sexual assault awareness month, and every day the Tennessee Democratic Party stands with the victims of of sexual assault. We also ask Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee Republican Party to take immediate action and ask Representative Byrd to resign. If they refuse, they will be sending a clear message to the victims that they do not take sexual assault seriously. It shows the entire state just how little Republicans value the lives and safety of vulnerable Tennesseans.”