KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee State Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) has announced a run to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn in 2024. Johnson’s campaign launched Tuesday with a multicity tour around the Volunteer State.

The state representative is traveling around Tennessee on Tuesday, making a stop in Knoxville at Savage Gardens. She will be joined by State Rep. Justin Jones in Nashville, campaign co-chair State Rep. Justin J. Pearson in Memphis, and campaign co-chair State Sen. Charlane Oliver in all three cities.

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“Gloria has dedicated her life to fighting for justice and standing tall for Tennesseans who have been left out, left behind, or left without a voice,” a press release announcing her campaign launch states. “She is challenging Marsha Blackburn because Tennessee deserves a Senator who will fight for working families not special interest donors and D.C. politicians.”

One of the “Tennessee Three,” Johnson narrowly missed expulsion from the Tennessee General Assembly earlier this year. She and fellow Democratic representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson had gained national attention amid the expulsion votes after they protested gun violence on the floor of the State House following the deadly Covenant School shooting.

Republican lawmakers had voted to expel Jones and Pearson, but Johnson’s expulsion vote failed by one vote. Jones and Pearson were later reappointed as interim successors by the Nashville Metro Council and Shelby County Commission, respectively. Both representatives have since won back their seats.

Johnson, a former schoolteacher, was first elected to represent Tennessee House District 13 in 2012 and narrowly lost her reelection bid in 2014. She won the seat back in 2018 and was reelected in 2020. Due to redistricting, she moved to District 90 to avoid running against Democratic incumbent Sam McKenzie in District 15 and defeated Republican nominee David Poczobut in 2022.

Blackburn had defeated former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen in 2018 to become the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate representing Tennessee. Following the retirement of longtime Senator Lamar Alexander in 2021, Blackburn became Tennessee’s senior senator.

Following Johnson’s campaign launch announcement Tuesday, Blackburn’s office released the following statement:

It’s no surprise that radical socialist Gloria Johnson decided to jump into the race at the urging of liberals in Washington, joining Marquita Bradshaw and others in the race for the Democratic nomination. State Rep. Johnson is as woke as they come, and she would be a puppet for Joe Biden, the Squad, and Chuck Schumer in the Senate. While Senator Blackburn is working hard to fight back against Biden’s woke agenda, State Rep. Johnson is pushing that divisive, destructive agenda here in Tennessee. Tennesseans deserve a United States Senator who is committed to fighting for our conservative values. Senator Blackburn will continue her record of getting things done and fighting for Tennessee families.

Abigail Sigler, Blackburn campaign spokesman