The state House Democrats may lose another veteran leader after this term as former powerful committee chairs choose retirement over being a minority under Republican rule.
State Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, the House Democratic Leader, was chair of the powerful Finance Ways and Means Committee under the Democrats. He’s been in the House since 1994. He has confirmed that he may be a candidate for governor against Gov. Bill Haslam in 2014. Fitzhugh, a banker from Ripley, was one of five finalists for the presidency of the University of Tennessee.
Haslam’s incumbency, deep pockets, and high approval rating would be difficult to overcome. But Fitzhugh would be a well-qualified and respectable choice for the party, reeling from successive Republican landslides in the Legislature. The Democratic Party was embarrassed in the last statewide election by Mark Clayton winning the primary for a U.S. Senate seat and then being disavowed by the party for his views.
Fitzhugh could be a credible candidate to rally Democrats and help down the ticket, especially in West Tennessee. But an incumbent governor hasn’t lost re-election since Ray Blanton. And he didn’t run.