His place secure in the textbooks as the hapless victim of the worst FU in modern Tennessee political history, House Republican leader Jason Mumpower announced today he's done with the legislature. Meeting with reporters a few minutes ago, he denied that his public humiliations of the past year played a role in his decision. Here are excerpts:
Q: Why now?
Mumpower: [Nine-second pause] The time was right. It's always best to leave the party early. This hasn't been an easy decision. It's been one that I've come to know was the right decision. What I'm going to do at this point is finish this session, leading this caucus in an aggressive way to make sure we accomplish a balanced budget with no new taxes. Then I'm going to leave this session and get out in the field to make sure we continue to grow and expand our Republican majority in this House of Representatives. And then after that, you know, we'll see what's ahead. I'm looking forward to new challenges and this was the right time for me to make a decision.
Q: Are you going to work in any political campaigns?
Mumpower: I'm going to work in many campaigns across this state helping House Republicans get elected, so yes, I'll be very active this fall.
Q: How long had you been thinking about doing this?
Mumpower: You know it's a decision that a member of the House has to make every two years. I've always had a tradition of filing my petition for reelection on or about race time in Bristol. That happened to be this past weekend. So I spent a lot of time this past weekend, talking with my family and really came to the conclusion this past weekend that this was the right choice for me.
Q: How much of this had to do with not becoming speaker?
Mumpower: That's old news. It is what it is. It has nothing to do it. My decision has everything to do with what's right for me and right with my family.
Q: Do you think you could have been reelected House Republican leader?
Mumpower: You know, I think if I had chosen to run for reelection, I would have first been reelected to my House seat. I think I would have reelected as House Republican leader, and I think I would have stood a very good chance of being elected speaker. But ultimately, I made a different decision.
Q: Do you support anyone to succeed you as leader?
Mumpower: That is a decision for the caucus to make. I will not be a member of the caucus during the next leadership elections, and I will not be involved.