He's a toothless lion now, but he still can roar a little. Jimmy Naifeh lashed out today at GOP candidates for the state's constitutional offices. Meeting with reporters, he called treasurer hopeful Ira Brody "a political hack" looking to be rewarded for raising GOP campaign cash. Naifeh accused secretary of state candidate Tre Hargett of once stealing campaign fliers off car windshields: "Is this a person who's going to be running elections in the state of Tennessee?"
But he saved most of his outrage for Justin Wilson, the only GOP candidate for comptroller. Naifeh called on Wilson to answer questions about any possible involvement in the Sundquist administration contracts scandal, and he all but accused Wilson of lying about his role in pushing a state income tax as one of Sundquist's top aides.
"He was very involved in it at the time and now that he's a candidate for comptroller he's claiming to have not been involved in it," Naifeh said. "Or he was involved but he really didn't like doing it but his boss had him doing it. Something like that is the story, isn't it?"
"Did he ever indicate to you that he personally supported it and that it was the way to go?" a reporter asked.
"He never indicated to me that he didn't think it was the way to go," Naifeh replied.
Of the Democrats now holding the constitutional offices, Naifeh said, "All that institutional knowledge we need to keep. These are some of the most knowledgeable people in state government that you could find. The best people for the jobs are sitting there right now."
As for himself, Naifeh still is predicting he'll win the speakership again when the House votes next week. But he wouldn't claim he's found that elusive 50th vote.
"I'm working on it, still talking to people," he said. "I'm running for speaker and I plan to be successful on Tuesday."