Gloria Johnson (D), a member of the “Tennessee Three,” has launched an exploratory committee for a potential 2024 Senate run.
The 61-year-old state lawmaker filed exploratory paperwork, a step potential candidates typically take before launching a campaign, last week.
Johnson is expected to challenge Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R) for her Senate seat, as Johnson has been a longtime critic of Blackburn and other GOP leaders in her home state.
Blackburn, who spent the last sixteen years as a House Representative for Tennessee, defeated former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) in 2018 to be elected to the state’s Senate seat.
“Tennessee has a Senator that stands with bullies, I have a reputation for standing up to bullies,” Johnson said in a statement, according to The Associated Press. “I’m taking a serious look at this race and having great conversations with folks who are hungry for better leadership in Washington.”
Johnson gained national attention earlier this year for participating in a pro-gun control protest with fellow Democratic state Reps. Justin Pearson and Justin Jones inside the Tennessee Capitol that attracted thousands of demonstrators, calling for lawmakers to address the state’s gun laws.
The protest came days after a gunman entered The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, Tenn., and opened fire, killing three students and three adults. The shooting renewed calls for action against gun violence in the U.S. and prompted Gov. Bill Lee (R) to call for a special legislative session focused on gun reform and public safety, which will begin later this month.
The incident also led to GOP-controlled Tennessee House of Representatives’ vote to expel Jones and Pearson — who are Black —for their participation in the protest. Johnson survived her expulsion vote after the House failed to meet the necessary two-thirds majority.
The Hill has reached out to Johnson’s office for comment and more information.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.