House Democratic Caucus Chairman Turner won’t seek reelection to House seat

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner announced today that he will not seek reelection to the House District 51 seat.

“This is a hard place to quit but I will not be running this time around,” Turner said in a brief House floor speech.

Turner, 59, who is has held the seat 14 years. A Nashville firefighter by profession, Turner has said he is eyeing a run for Nashville mayor next year. The current mayor, Karl Dean, cannot seek reelection because of Metro Nashville’s term limits.

UPDATE: Here’s the House Democratic Caucus press release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner (D-Nashville) announced today that he intends to retire at the end of the year after serving 14 years in House District 51. Rep. Turner has served in the role as Caucus Chairman since 2009.

“Serving the people of Tennessee has been the greatest honor in my life,” said Rep. Turner. “This was a very hard decision to make because I am extremely grateful for all the friends I have made since coming to the House. While I remain committed to serving the people of House District 51 and my fellow House Democrats as Caucus Chairman, I look forward to being able to spend more time with my family in the months and years to come.”

“Mike Turner is the epitome of a public servant. He has been a tireless voice for middle-class families, organized labor and the City of Nashville. On a personal note, Mike Turner has become one of my closest friends in the General Assembly. Serving with him in leadership has had a profound effect on me and has most certainly made me a better legislator and a better leader. I will miss my friend and as I have said on many occasions—if I ever find myself or my family in trouble, I want Mike Turner there and I know he always will be.”

“Mike Turner is and always will be one of my best friends in the legislature,” said Rep. Joe Towns (D-Memphis). “There was no greater champion of working men and women in this state than Mike. While I wish he would stay, I know he feels the time is right to leave, and I wish him and his family all the best.”

“Nashville and the Democratic Party has always had a great advocate in Mike Turner,” said State Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville). “I have been proud to serve with him in the legislature and consider him one of my closest friends. I look forward to continuing to work with him to make Nashville and Tennessee a greater place for all.”

“My time in the legislature may be coming to an end, but I won’t ever stop fighting to make Nashville and Tennessee a better place for all,” said Rep. Turner.

House District 51 covers the areas of Old Hickory, Madison, East Nashville, Downtown Nashville, and Germantown. President Obama won the district with 66% of the vote in 2012, while Rep. Turner was uncontested.

Statement from House Speaker Beth Harwell:
“I appreciate Representative Mike Turner’s seven terms of service to this body, his district and Davidson County. Although we don’t always see eye to eye, I know his principles come from a place of genuine conviction. He has always been a strong advocate for his district and later, in leadership, for his caucus. I have considered it a pleasure to call him a colleague, and I thank him for his commitment to this state.”

See also Andrea Zelinski, who nicely rounds up Turner’s commentary in a meeting with media types.