Speaker post also Matlock’s state goal

A Farragut area businessman seeking his sixth term in Tennessee House of Representatives, Jimmy Matlock said he’s decided to trust his rank-and-file employees at Matlock Tire Service & Auto Repair — and his wife’s judgment — and expand his political horizons.

As a result, Matlock [R-21st Dist.] finds himself with three opponents during the fall election season, which includes his run against Beth Harwell [R-56th Dist.] to become state House Speaker.

“The timing is unusual because I am running against a Democrat [Pamela Weston] and an Independent [William Vandever] in my district,” said Matlock, owner of his store just outside of Farragut, 10730 Kingston Pike, plus locations in Lenoir City, Maryville and Athens who serves constituents in parts of Loudon and Monroe counties. Matlock also owns “an auto parts distribution business” in Lenoir City.
Should he be re-elected Tuesday, Nov. 8, Matlock is seeking to unseat Harwell in a vote to be taken “in a family election, it’s among colleagues and peers inside the [House Republican] Caucus” during the second week of December, Matlock said about his “72 peers.”

However, “I don’t want to seem presumptuous that I’m guaranteed a [21st District] victory. That is not the case,” Matlock added about his “70,000-plus constituents.”

“But my experience in the last five races has allowed me to feel fairly good about my chances, and the district has voted me back in by over 75 percent.”

About running for Speaker, Matlock said his decision to run came Tuesday, Aug. 9, not long after “having no consideration, no desire, no ambition to even think about running as a speaker.

“There’s a certain way to serve, and for 10 years I’ve tried to be quiet and to listen and develop relationships and certainly friendships among my colleagues on the Republican and Democratic side,” Matlock added. “I think I’ve been successful with that.

“I never sought out leadership positions.”

However, “A couple of things came up almost at the same time. We had some people inside of our business who just kept asking, ‘I can do more, I want to do more,’” Matlock said about tire company management employees “allowing me the time” to expand his duties within the House. “We’ve been blessed to have a group of long-serving, quality co-workers. … I was maybe doing too much. I was prodded by staff, ‘Hey, we think it’s time we took over.’”

That employee prodding included his son, Joe Matlock.

Moreover, Matlock, 57, said his wife, Dean Matlock, “Became convinced, in her words, that I needed to put myself ‘forward to do a lot more’ as a representative, or ‘maybe get out of the way and let somebody take my place.’”

Though saying Harwell is “a wonderful lady and a friend of mine,” Matlock added he was further motivated to become Speaker in early August after “hearing a lot of my colleagues share their frustrations and disappointments about the last two years, particularly the last two months, in Nashville. That maybe it was time for a change, a reset.”

Though saying he was reluctant to be specific about deficiencies in Harwell’s speakership, Matlock said a number of representatives “aren’t being heard as much as they want.”

The final decision to run for Speaker came “after I met with my family and met with my pastor and met with some of my co-workers,” Matlock said.

“I don’t know if it’s providential, but I think maybe God allowed some doors to open that here before hadn’t been open,” he added. “… I think I’m fair-minded and I think I’ve got the respect of all my colleagues.

“Even the members who I know aren’t going to vote for me, they say the same thing: ‘Jimmy, we’ve been in your committees, you’ve chaired the Transportation [Committee], you’ve been exceptionally fair, maybe the most fair of anyone over there. … We think you’ve got a high level of integrity.’”

Matlock said he’s capable “of bringing together the ideas of the group and putting forward a message that is unified even if everyone is not totally, 100 percent happy.”