Matlock optimistic about unseating Harwell

State Rep. Jimmy Matlock of Lenoir City tells the Tennessean that he’s optimistic about chances for unseating House Speaker Beth Harwell in voting among House Republican Caucus members after the November election.

“I see myself up by seven (votes). I think there’s still a good number in the middle. So I’m far from locking down anything, and don’t presume among (lawmakers in) my count 100 percent will stay. I’m just telling you how it feels,” Matlock said in a phone interview Thursday.

… In his phone interview Thursday Matlock tried to stress he is not running against Harwell, calling her “just a wonderful lady.”

“The word that keeps coming back is ‘We’re frustrated, Jimmy, and we want transparency. We want the opportunity to be in the discussion, and we want to go home and be able to tell our districts we know what in Nashville is being planned and how we set our agenda.’ The transparency keeps coming up over and over again,” Matlock said, referencing conversations he said he’s had with other members.

Harwell has faced criticism, mainly from Democrats, as to how she’s handled the ongoing scandal involving embattled Rep. Jeremy Durham. Matlock said he doesn’t want to second-guess Harwell’s decisions, but he’s committed to a “new day” at the statehouse.

He was light on the details as to what that new day would look like, but promised more information throughout his campaign. In general, Matlock said he wants to promote candor and transparency while giving everyone in the caucus and the entire House a chance to speak and contribute, something he said hasn’t always been the case.

“I have, like other members, found the last session to be challenging, frustrating, and I think there was a mood among the caucus of divisiveness that didn’t certainly play in a positive direction,” Matlock said.