NASHVILLE — Tennessee House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh said today that he remains a candidate for the speakership in January despite Republicans’ recently won majority in the chamber.
“I sure am,” said Speaker Naifeh, D-Covington, who with 18 years in the job is the longest-serving House speaker in Tennessee history.
Rep. Naifeh, who became speaker in 1991, hopes to overcome the 50-49 majority Republicans won on Nov. 4. The GOP picked up four seats previously held by Democrats.
The powerful speaker, who is hoping to peel one or more Republicans away, suffered another blow Tuesday when all 50 Republicans pledged in writing to vote for a Republican speaker. Current Republican Leader Jason Mumpower of Bristol is the only candidate.
Asked by the Chattanooga Times Free Press whether he expected to win, Rep. Naifeh, 68, replied, “Well, I’m running.”
He then disappeared into his office with a number of House Democrats and Pat Miller, a top aide to Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen.
Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Rep. Gary Odom, D-Nashville, recently announced he is running for House minority leader.
Democrats still are reeling from the expected GOP takeover of the House, which will allow a Republican speaker to decide who serves on committees and who heads them, a major aid in controlling what proposed laws pass and do not pass.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...