Jockeying Continues on TVA Board

Two more terms on the TVA board expired in May and behind-the-scenes jockeying continues on who will fill those two slots and the slot that's been empty since last December.

Gina Lodge, a former commissioner in Gov. Phil Bredesen's administration, appears to be a lock for one of the positions. She has been a prodigious fund-raiser for Democratic candidates in past years and her husband Dick is a lobbyist and a member of one of Nashville's largest law firms. He is a past chair of the state Democratic Party.

Congressman Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, is said to be making a convincing case for a black member from Memphis. Cohen is also vehemently opposed to former House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh being named to the board. Naifeh had been recommended earlier. Cohen, a former state senator, often locked horns with Naifeh over the years. Naifeh once had the Sergeant-at-Arms remove Cohen from the House floor. Cohen, one of only two Democratic congressmen from Tennessee, is likely to have his candidate replace Naifeh as a nominee.

Billy Stair, a former deputy to Gov. Ned McWherter, is also being considered. But former Congressman Lincoln Davis' name has also surfaced and he is garnering support from Democrats on the Hill. Davis is a former Democratic congressman representing the 4th District.

Hovering in the background is Franklin Haney, the once downtown Knoxville Holiday Inn owner and TVA's Chattanooga landlord. He once gave candidate Barack Obama a million dollars; he has influence with the White House. Haney has a proposal to finance construction of a TVA nuclear plant at the Bellefonte site, a proposal that was turned down by the current board. Haney may want a hand in who the new board members are.

Though the terms of Bill Sansom and Barbara Haskew have expired, they can served until a replacement is named or until the end of the year. The other vacancy is from Neil McBride leaving the board at the end of last year.