By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Longtime Sen. Douglas Henry said Wednesday that his health and the high cost of campaigning were factors in his decision not to seek re-election next year, even though he believes he could win if he did run.
The 86-year-old Nashville Democrat officially met with reporters about a week after his campaign manager sent an email to Henry’s supporters last week announcing his decision.
Henry, who turns 87 this month, said he had been disregarding his doctor’s request that he not run again but finally decided to heed his advice. He also said the amount of money he spent on his 2010 election was “obscene.”
“If I told y’all how much money it cost to get elected last time, you’d never believe it,” he said. (Note: His campaign expenditures for the 2010 cycle were about $582,000.)
Sen. Douglas Henry, the most senior member of the Tennessee General Assembly, has announced he will not seek a 12th term next year.
“It is my intention, the Lord willing, to serve in the regular session of the General Assembly in 2014 and any special session or sessions called during that year until the November election,” Henry said in a letter to Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney.
The Tennessean reported Henry’s decision, noting he referred a reporter to a story in the Green Hills News, and quoting his long-time political ally Nick Bailey. “He asked me to let you know that he has made the decision not to seek re-election in 2014,” Bailey wrote in a letter to Henry’s supporters. “He does intend to serve the remainder of his term through next year.
“While I am convinced that Sen. Henry could have been re-elected, it was not a decision he reached based on the likely outcome of the election. Rather, it was a decision to devote his full attention to the care of his wife Lolly.”
The Green Hills News story by Drucillia Smith Fuller (pdf of the weekly paper HERE) quotes the letter to legislative leaders. An excerpt from the story: He enclosed a letter from his physician, Dr. Mohana Karlekar, written last May but only heeded a year later, advising that his continuing to work as a senator, at the pace he works, would negatively impact his health.
The decision by Sen. Henry, who turns 87 on Monday, May 13, opens the 21st District for a newcomer to the Senate, promising to spark a fierce battle between the two parties for the seat.
Henry’s quarter-century of service chairing the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee has been widely praised by colleagues in both parties. Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell recently expressed her appreciation of Henry, “You know, governors come and go. But it is Sen. Douglas Henry who has watched that budget year after year and worried about that program. It’s just a wonderful gift he has given our state to his children, to his grandchildren to have done this for state government.”
Republican State Treasurer David Lillard has called Sen. Henry, “the lion of the pension system — he guards it well,” while State Comptroller Justin Wilson credits Henry with keeping pensions fully-funded since 1972.”
Henry with his characteristic modesty thanks “my late friend Lt. Gov. John Wilder who made me chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. That made me a big, big dog!”
The Senator expressed his admiration for current Senate Finance Chairman Randy McNally, a Republican, with whom he now serves.
Henry served a term in the House in the 1950s – the 79th General Assembly, which convened in 1955 – and was first elected to the Senate during the 87th General Assembly, which convened in 1971
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Former state Attorney General Paul Summers has been appointed to a four-year term as a senior judge beginning on Jan. 1.
Summers is currently a partner at the Waller law firm in Nashville.
According to a news release from the firm, prior to his nearly eight years as attorney general, Summers spent eight years on the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Before that, he was district attorney general for the 25th Judicial District in West Tennessee.
Summers has 33 years of commissioned military service as a judge advocate general officer, retiring with the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army. Summers received the National Guard Distinguished Service Medal from Gov. Phil Bredesen and the Legion of Merit from President George W. Bush.
David Leaverton, who came to Tennessee in 1996 to become a punter for the University of Tennessee football team, has resigned as senior field director for U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and is returning to his home state of Texas.
From Georgiana Vines: After representing the senator in a 15-county area for 5½ years, he said he and wife Erin are moving to Dallas to be near their families. They have a 1-year-old daughter, Grace, and another child is on the way.
“It made a lot of sense for us personally to be close to family. It’s also someone you trust to leave your child with. It’s not the same as with a baby sitter,” Leaverton said.
He said he will join Pioneer Natural Resources, an exploration and production company in Irving, Texas, in its public affairs staff.
A new Tennessee law requiring voters to show photo identification at polling stations may hinge on whether it discourages voting by the elderly, according to Chas Sisk. The proposition is that, if anyone is disenfranchised from voting by the law, it could lead to a successful legal challenge. And seniors are the most likely to be disenfranchised. The requirement is especially controversial among senior citizens, many of whom have been voting for decades in Tennessee without having to produce a picture ID. While some seniors believe the law will combat voter fraud, others say its main purpose is to suppress turnout among older voters by requiring them to revisit driver’s license stations.
“It is a 2½-hour wait just to get somebody to see you,” Mary Lou Pierce, 73, said over a taco lunch Tuesday in Bellevue. “It is ridiculous (when) you’re talking about somebody’s who’s got a walker. … That is just awful, and it is to disenfranchise.”
…Like other states, Tennessee has based its law on a 2008 Supreme Court review of Indiana’s voter ID law. In that case, the court ruled that state officials’ interest in protecting the integrity of elections was important enough to allow an ID requirement.
But that ruling also left some wiggle room for opponents to challenge ID laws again.
The original suit challenged Indiana’s law on its face, arguing that it was inherently unconstitutional. But three justices said then that they might have ruled differently if opponents could have shown that some voters could not get picture IDs.
Goins acknowledged that any disenfranchised voters could lead to legal action. But he said the campaign’s main purpose is simply to make sure Tennesseans know what they have to do to vote.
“I can’t find anybody that’s going to be disenfranchised,” he said. “But if there is somebody that’s been disenfranchised, there are enough opponents, I’m sure it’s going to be loud and vocal.”