So it finally dawned on state Sen. John Wilder that he shouldn't run yet again for reelection. If he had won, a likely prospect, he would have been 90 at the end of the term. It was way past time to pack it in.
Why did Wilder decide to retire after insisting only a few weeks ago that he'd run again? It's hard to say since the mind of the Wildebeest, his nickname within the Capitol Hill press corps, is mysterious and ultimately unknowable. But insiders say Wilder had been under the strange impression that, if Democrats retook the Senate in November, he would be reelected speaker. Lately, apparently someone has delivered the news flash to Wilder that he'll never be speaker again.
Another possibility: Wilder has gotten so old and feeble that he's no longer able to fly to Nashville from his Somerville home in his beloved airplane, Jaybird. Wilder himself has said that's one of the big reasons he's stayed so long in the legislature: He loves to fly.
Here's Wilder's statement
this morning on the Senate floor.