It’s certainly fitting that my first post be dedicated to my old nemesis, Former Speaker Jimmy Naifeh D-Covington, longest serving Speaker of the House in the history of Tennessee. During my first tour of duty as a State Representative 1988-92, our relationship was shaky putting it mildly. Republicans were in the minority, with Speaker Naifeh bound and determined to keep it that way. While some GOP colleagues decided to ease along, me and a few others opted for being less loyal and more opposition. As it goes, that’s when the fight began.
We obstructed, sidetracked and delayed every way we thought of to embarrass and frustrate the Democrats’ formidable grip on power. The Democrats retaliated in kind. More than once my microphone was cut off in mid-debate and my legislation had as much chance passing as a topped out hog through the eye of a needle. When redistricting came after the 1990 Census, twelve Republicans were placed in six districts. Needless to say, I drew one of the short straws. I did run for the State Senate in 1992, losing by 200 votes in the Clinton/Gore surge.
Inadvertently, the 2000 census redistricting resulted in a perfect district for my return to the legislature. The incumbent moved up to the Senate and I was elected in 2004. Coming back, I was pleased others like Glen Casada and Stacey Campfield had picked up the firebrand baton. After 12 years, my first encounter with still Speaker Naifeh came in a chance hallway passing. “Frank, you all have to do something about Campfield,” he said obviously agitated, “he has a blog!” I replied, “what’s a blog?” Naifeh paused and responded, “I don’t know but it sounds bad.” He hurried off. And that’s when the fight began ….again.
Republicans now have a super majority in Tennessee and Rep. Jimmy Naifeh has retired. I have moved on to the Senate, still remembering good times, good friends and good enemies alike.