House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner said Saturday he plans to run for re-election twice more then look at running for mayor of Nashville.
Turner, born and raised in Nashville, said he’s been hearing rumors that he’s not going to run again for his seat in the Legislature, so he decided to tell everyone his plans, including the potential mayoral run in 2015.
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean was recently sworn in for his second four-year term and could not run again. Turner told the Democratic state executive meeting of his plans Saturday. He talked about his plans at a reception at the Maxwell House Hotel prior to Saturday night’s Jackson Day Dinner for the Tennessee Democratic Party at the Bicentennial Capitol Mall.
“I’m running for the House two more times, and if the opportunity is there to run for mayor I’m thinking about running for mayor. And if I’m not successful there, I’ll just run for the House for the third time. I’m not going anywhere,” Turner told TNReport.
“Of course that’s almost three-and-a-half years away, but I am interested in it. I’ve had some people approach me about it. It made me start thinking about it. I’ve had some people in the business community and some other interested citizens — and I won’t say who — who have said something to me about it. I was flattered, and I thought about it and told them I’d look into it.”
Turner, who lives in the Old Hickory community in Nashville, is currently in his sixth term in the House.
He noted that former Nashville mayor Bill Purcell was also a member of the Tennessee General Assembly before seeking the mayor’s office. Purcell was mayor for two terms, from 1999-2007.
“I love the city. I plan on living here. I think I’d like to look into it. I probably need to talk to my family more about it, things like that. They might know I’ve had it on my mind,” Turner said.
Turner said his most immediate plan is to gain more Democratic seats in the Legislature. He said if the Democrats do not pick up seats next year, he probably would not remain leader of the caucus. He said in that situation he would give somebody else a shot at the leadership position but would run again for his seat.
The Democrats lost their majority in the House in 2008 and saw further losses in the Republican tidal wave of 2010. The GOP currently has a 64-34-1 majority.
Turner was among the Democratic survivors of the GOP stampede, but barely. The Old Hickory firefighter just did dodge a surprisingly competitive charge by District 51 Republican buffalo rancher Charles Williamson, 7,990 votes to 7,268.
Turner said he didn’t know the origin of talk that he might not run again next year.
“I don’t know what got that going. I just wanted to squash all the rumors, so I told everybody my political aspirations,” he said.
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said he was “elated” to know Turner planned to run for his seat again, because Forrester also received calls about Turner not running.
“He is an important asset to us, an amazing soldier in our fight to take back Tennessee,” Forrester said. “Anything beyond that is all up to him, but I totally am thrilled he is going to run for re-election this time and however many times, and I hope he continues as caucus chair.”
Forrester said a “Republican overreach” in the last legislative session provides Democrats a “game-changer” for the next election.
“We have seen that Democrats are galvanized unlike they ever have been before. Those important swing voters are appalled and aghast at what the Republicans have done,” Forrester said in an interview Saturday night with TNReport. “That affords us a chance with a good message to bring those swing voters to our column and win elections.”
Forrester said the Republicans went too far for voters’ taste when they stripped teachers of collective bargaining privileges and by passing the new photo ID law for voting.
“I’ve been all over this state, and I’m finding lots of voters, particularly those over 65 who don’t have a photo on their driver’s license, and they’re furious about this new law,” Forrester said. “We’re going to educate voters about how to ensure they have a photo ID, but I think the fact the Republicans have done this creates a real game-changer for us.”