NASHVILLE -- Marine Capt. Ben Leming of Murfreesboro has filed a petition to run as a Democrat for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Bart Gordon.
Adviser Jeff Clark told The Associated Press on Monday that Leming, 34, got permission from the secretary of the Navy to file his candidacy, but can't actively campaign until his active duty ends May 1.
Gordon, a Democrat, is retiring after 13 terms in office. The 6th Congressional District seat represents 15 counties ranging east from Nashville's fast-growing suburbs to the Cumberland Plateau.
Clark said Leming enlisted in the Marines after graduating from Oakland High School in Murfreesboro in 1994. After completing boot camp and infantry training Leming was nominated to the U.S. Naval Academy by Gordon.
Leming flew helicopter combat missions in the Iraq war and later transferred to intelligence work. He is currently a company officer at the Naval Academy.
Leming met his wife Sarah at the academy. She is now a reserve officer, and can campaign on her husband's behalf until he leaves active duty, Clark said.
Republican candidates for the seat so far include state Sens. Diane Black of Gallatin and Jim Tracy of Shelbyville, and former Rutherford County Republican Party Chairwoman Lou Ann Zelenik.
The seat was held by former Vice President Al Gore until he was elected to the Senate in 1984. The candidate filing deadline in Tennessee is Thursday.
Gordon's toughest re-election challenge was against Steve Gill, a lawyer and later radio talk show host, whom he beat by just 2,200 votes out of 180,000 cast in 1994. Gordon defeated Gill more comfortably in a rematch two years later, and has since cruised to re-election.
But Republican presidential candidate John McCain carried the district by 25 percentage points over Barack Obama in 2008, and national Republicans have been targeting conservative Democrats in rural districts.