TVA board member Mike McWherter is expected to be a major influence in picking three new members. The son of former Gov. Ned McWherter and the Democratic candidate for governor four years ago is said to have been consulted by the White House on who to pick.
It is likely that McWherter will call on prominent Democrats who have been associated with the McWherter family or his father’s administration. State Capitol Hill sources say a front-runner for the board is likely former House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh. Naifeh was a protege of Ned McWherter’s when McWherter was Speaker of the House and Naifeh went on to become one of the longest-serving speakers in state history and one of its most powerful political figures. He served until the Republicans took over the House. He then engineered a coup putting Republican Kent Williams in as speaker with Democratic votes and his party retained committee chairs during Williams’ two-year tenure.
The White House was said to be displeased that the last round of Democratic board members deferred to Tennessee’s two Republican senators and retained Republican Bill Sansom as TVA chair. McWherter was the lone vote against Sansom.
Sansom and Barbara Haskew’s terms are up in May and Neil McBride left the board at the end of this past year. That leaves three positions to be filled in May.
Given the change in filibuster rules, whoever President Obama nominates will likely be confirmed—and possibly in a speedy manner by Senate standards.