Matlock wants change in House leadership style Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City, recently did something that surprised many of his colleagues — and perhaps even himself.

Earlier this month, the veteran state lawmaker announced his bid to seek the Tennessee House Speaker position, challenging current House Speaker Beth Harwell.

“It surprised my colleagues and probably even surprised me,” Matlock admitted when he spoke to The Advocate & Democrat about his announcement.

Matlock represents all of Loudon County and much of Monroe County in the 21st House District. The Lenoir City businessman was first elected to the House in 2006, the same year his good friend Republican Mike Bell was elected to represent the eastern portion of Monroe County and all of McMinn County in the 23rd House District. Bell was always the more outspoken of the two and usually sponsored the most legislation. Matlock often said he did not expect to stay in the House a long time, while Bell eventually became a state senator.

“Nobody was more surprised than my friend Mike Bell,” Matlock said of his seeking the House speaker’s post.

Matlock believes it is time for a change with more transparency in the House and the involvement of more members.

“I have been frustrated the last couple of years over things that have been done and left undone. We get sidetracked,” Matlock said.

Matlock said he has nothing against Harwell.

“She is a wonderful lady and a friend of mine,” he said.

Both Matlock and Harwell face re-election in November, but are considered favorites to win back their seats. After the November election, a post-election caucus meeting will be held with House representatives choosing between the two lawmakers for the speaker’s post.

In addition to his desire to bring more transparency and inclusion to government, Matlock said his family is in agreement for him to take on more of a leadership role in state government. He also said he has people in place at his business, Matlock Tire, to help more with the day-to-day operations of his business, freeing him up to lead more in the Tennessee General Assembly.”

It is possible that two state lawmakers who have strong ties to Monroe County will have big leadership roles when the General Assembly goes back in session early next year. Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, who previously served as a state senator for Monroe before district changes a decade ago, is highly likely to be the new Senate speaker. As for Matlock’s chances to beat out Harwell for the House speaker’s post, he says he has received strong support from House members, but will certainly not count his chickens before they hatch. Nothing is for sure when it is comes to politics.