Rural West Gets the Nod on Minority Leader

Although virtually half the Democrats in the state House of Representatives are now part of the Black Caucus, a black candidate for minority leader came in third in voting last week.

The caucus picked state Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, to be the minority leader in the House, in which the Republicans picked up 14 seats and an overwhelming majority in the last election. Fitzhugh, a lawyer and a banker from rural west Tennessee, was a finalist for the UT presidency. Fitzhugh upset state Rep. Gary Odom, D-Nashville, who had been the majority leader before the election results.

State Rep. John DeBerry, D-Memphis, was the black candidate. He is regarded to be one of the finest orators in the House but is considered too conservative by many black House members. They did not support him for the position.