Don McLeary

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For the American football coach, see Don McLeary (American football).
Don McLeary
Member of the Tennessee Senate
from the 27th district
In office
Preceded by Bobby Carter
Succeeded by Lowe Finney
Personal details
Born (1948-01-02) January 2, 1948 (age 67)
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Don McLeary (born January 2, 1948) is an American politician and former college football player and coach. He was a member of the Tennessee Senate representing the 27th district, which is composed of Madison, Gibson, and Carroll counties.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Don McLeary attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, working to obtain Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees. He currently works as an investment executive and has served on the boards of both the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association.[1]

Coaching career[edit]

From 1986 to 1996, Don McLeary was the head football coach for the University of Tennessee at Martin. He is the third winningest coach in UT Martin history, leading UT Martin to a shared Gulf South Conference Championship and the NCAA Division II Quarterfinals. He was inducted into the UT Martin Athletics Hall of Fame in October 2006.[2]

Political career[edit]

Don McLeary won the 2002 general election as a Democrat to the Tennessee General Assembly for a four-year term over Republican incumbent Bobby Carter.[3][4] On February 3, 2006, he held a press conference announcing the switch of his party affiliation to the Republican Party.[5]

Don McLeary served as the vice chair of the Senate Education Committee. He was also a member of the Senate Commerce, Labor and Agriculture Committee and the Senate Environment, Conservation and Tourism Committee.

In the 2006 general election, Don McLeary was defeated by 477 votes in a huge upset by Democratic opponent Lowe Finney.[6] In 2010, McLeary lost to Finney again, receiving 24,563 votes to Finney's 25,774.

Political views[edit]

McLeary was one of 29 state senators that voted to place a proposal amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage on the November 2006 gubernatorial election ballot.[7] He was also one of 24 state senators to favor putting on the ballot a proposal to remove any guarantees to the right to an abortion from the state constitution.[8] The proposal later failed to pass a panel in Tennessee House of Representatives.[9]

After holding a town hall meeting, McLeary proposed legislation that would direct the Tennessee Commissioner of Commerce and Insurance to develop a proposal to create an insurance pool to provide full coverage to residential and commercial property owners that are unable to obtain insurance coverage following widespread cancellation after a natural disaster. The bill, passed in April 2004, was co-sponsored by Roscoe Dixon in the state senate and by Johnny Shaw and Jimmy Eldridge in the House.[10][11]


  1. ^ a b [Tennessee Blue Book - 102nd and 103rd General Assemblies.] September 10, 2007.
  2. ^ "Two Former Coaches, Three Players Elected to Athletes Hall of Fame". Retrieved September 10, 2007. 
  3. ^ Pete Wickam. The Jackson Sun. "Democrat may switch to GOP in state Senate." The Tennessean. February 3, 2006.
  4. ^ Tennessee. Department of State, Division of Elections. "November 5, 2002 Election Results: State Senate. Accessed August 21, 2006.
  5. ^ "Sen. McLeary switches parties, becomes a Republican." The Tennessean and The Jackson Sun. February 3, 2006.
  6. ^ "War on crime hit by politics". Pete Wickam. The Jackson Sun. , 2006.
  7. ^ Lucas S. Johnson II. Associated Press. "Senate vote supports marriage definition to be put on ballot." The Tennessean. March 1, 2005.
  8. ^ "How they voted on the anti-abortion amendment". Nashville City Paper. March 10, 2006.
  9. ^ "Anti-abortion amendment killed in House panel". Nashville City Paper. John Rodgers. April 13, 2006.
  10. ^ "McLeary sponsors bill for insurance industry reform." The Jackson Sun. January 29, 2004.
  11. ^ Tennessee Department of State, Division of Publications. "Chapter No. 470." Public Acts, 2004.