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Naifeh: Time to ‘Pass the Torch’

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Rep. Jimmy Naifeh announced Thursday that he won’t seek re-election after 38 years in the House of Representatives, saying it’s time to “pass the torch to the next generation of leaders.”
Naifeh, who was given the honorary title of speaker emeritus after holding the top House post for 18 years, made the announcement on the House floor.
The Covington Democrat said the late Tennessee Democratic Gov. Ned McWherter, whom Naifeh described as a mentor in politics and life, “always told me when it was time to go home, I’d know it.”
“After talking with my family and friends, I believe the time has come for me to pass the torch to the next generation of leaders,” Naifeh said.
He was elected to the House in 1974 after losing his first bid for office in 1972. He was succeeded as House speaker in 2009 by Republican Rep. Kent Williams of Elizabethton, who edged Rep. Jason Mumpower of Bristol on a vote of 50-49 after all 49 Democrats banded together to support Williams.
Naifeh convinced Williams to seek the speakership and was behind the plan for him to be elected.
“During my one term as speaker … his experience helped me through a very hard two years,” Williams said Thursday on the House floor. “Thank you for all you did.”

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