Tennessee House speaker Beth Harwell retains seat

Beth Harwell
Beth Harwell

NASHVILLE (WATE) – Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell retained her seat in a 40 to 30 vote.

Harwell was opposed by Rep. Jimmy Matlock, a Lenoir City businessman whom Harwell appointed transportation chairman. She is a former professor from Nashville, became Tennessee’s first female speaker when she was first elected in 2011. She has faced persistent criticism from a small group of conservative backbenchers, but was easily renominated to the chamber’s top leadership post in 2012 and 2014.

State Sen. Randy McNally
State Sen. Randy McNally

Thursday morning, Republicans have unanimously nominated Randy McNally of Oak Ridge to become the next speaker of the state Senate. Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers, meaning that caucus nominations will likely make the formal votes for speaker among all members a formality in January.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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