State Rep. Beth Harwell is taking herself out of the running to be speaker of the newly Republican State House.
Harwell, a Nashville representative and former GOP state party chair, said this afternoon that House Minority Leader Jason Mumpower had put together a “very well-formed coalition” for speaker.
Harwell, who said publicly Wednesday she would seek the speaker chair, took herself out of the running, deferring to Mumpower.
“Jason Mumpower has gained the support of a very well-formed coalition from within our caucus,” Harwell said. “I am not going to be in the race, but rather am going to let Jason have that and look forward to working with our caucus.”
Republicans in a surprise victory won a 50-to-49 majority in the State House in Tuesday’s elections. It is the first time since Reconstruction the GOP has control of both houses of the General Assembly.
According to sources in both parties, current House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, a Covington Democrat, is calling House Republicans to try and broker a deal for a coalition to keep his seat. In the past, some Republican lawmakers in the House have voted for Naifeh. Mumpower said this afternoon already has the needed votes.
“I feel confident in my ability to receive 50 votes to be speaker,” Mumpower said. “I feel confident in my ability to hold all 50 Republican votes.”
Caucus reorganization takes place Dec. 1 and the State House will choose its new speaker Jan. 13.
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