Jimmy Naifeh not seeking re-election

Jimmy Naifeh not seeking re-election

March 8th, 2012 by Andy Sher in News

Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, bangs the gavel to open the 2008 session in Nashville in this file photo.

Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, bangs the gavel to open...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - Friends of Democratic House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh say they expect the 72-year-old lawmaker from Covington to announce today he won't seek re-election to the House seat he first won in 1974.

Naifeh served as speaker from 1991 to 2009 - becoming the longest-serving House speaker in Tennessee history.

In 2008 elections, Republicans gained their first 50-49 majority since Reconstruction. GOP lawmakers planned to elected Republican Jason Mumpower speaker.

But unable to secure a single GOP vote for himself, Naifeh and fellow Democrats turned the tables with all 49 Democrats joining together to elect a new speaker of their choice, Rep. Kent Williams, R-Elizabethton, who voted for himself. The GOP later threw Williams out of the party and he is now an independent.

Republicans in 2010 elections, however, won a 64-member majority in 2010.

This year during redistricting, Republicans redrew Naifeh's seat, lopping off Democratic-leaning Haywood County and leaving Naifeh entirely in his once-rural home county of Tipton. The county has become increasingly an increasingly Republican suburb of Memphis.

Naifeh has told friends he expects to make his announcement on the House floor today.