John Ray Clemmons

Democrat Stewart to retire from state House

Rep Mike Stewart (D-Nashville) speaks to reporters on the House floor in Nashville on May 1, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State Rep. Mike Stewart, a former House Democratic caucus chair from Nashville, announced he is retiring from the General Assembly. Under initial Republican redistricting plans, Stewart was going to be drawn together with fellow Democrat John Ray Clemmons. But the majority party relented in a last-minute change, leaving the two incumbents in their own districts.

Here’s Stewart’s statement:

NASHVILLE — Today Mike Stewart announced in a Facebook Live appearance on the Tennessee Holler that he is not running for the state house seat he has held since 2008.  “I consider the opportunity to serve in the Tennessee General Assembly as one of the great honors of my life and I am grateful to all the people who have helped me along the way,” Stewart said.

Stewart intends to shift his political energy to protecting America’s democratic system, which is under serious internal attack for the first time since the 1850’s.  “We are facing a threat that I never expected to deal with during my lifetime; a former President and his followers attempting to invalidate a Presidential election and with it the system we use in this country to allow the people to choose their leaders.  I was one of those who mistakenly thought that President Trump was just being a sore loser when he made claims of election fraud; now it has been revealed that those claims were part of an orchestrated effort to cancel the 2020 election, thwart the will of the people and retain political control illegally.  It is the sort of thing that I expected to see only in other countries and in science fiction movies,” Stewart observed.

“As a lawyer and a person who has been deeply involved in elections for many years, I hope to do what I can to protect the democratic process in the upcoming 2022 and 2024 elections,” Stewart observed.  Specifically, I will be working with leaders around the nation to ensure that polling places are adequately monitored to prevent false claims of fraud, working to ensure that state legislatures are not controlled by anti-democratic leaders, and working to develop legal strategies to check those who continue to make false statements undermining our system of elections.”  

“Many citizens I’m talking to are feeling overwhelmed and defeated.  They grew up in the world’s most stable and admired democracy, and now see a former President, as well as Senators and Congressmen, debasing themselves on national television repeating claims they know are entirely untrue.  I plan to do everything I can to ensure that such people are not allowed to tamper further with our sacred system of elections so that the people have a fair opportunity to repudiate such irresponsible and, ultimately, immoral leadership.  Many are talking about the threat; it is time to develop concrete plans to respond to it on a state-by-state level.”

Stewart added, “I’d like to close this chapter by saying it has been a privilege to serve the people in House District 52 and I intend to continue fighting for you, as well as the rest of the country, in my new role.”

Dixie elected chair of House Democratic Caucus

Vincent Dixie.

State Rep. Vincent Dixie has been elected chair of the House Democratic Caucus. He succeeds Rep. Mike Stewart, who decided against running for another term as the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat.

Rep. Karen Camper of Memphis was unopposed in her bid for another term as House Minority Leader.

Dixie defeated Rep. Bo Mitchell in the final round of caucus voting. Rep. John Ray Clemmons was eliminated in the first round. All three candidates (plus Stewart) represent Nashville districts. Vote totals were not announced.

Dixie was elected to his second term in the House last month.

Rep. Clemmons to run for Nashville mayor

Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons tells The Tennessean’s Joey Garrison he will run for Nashville mayor this year.

“I’m prepared to provide that strong, decisive leadership that Nashvillians expect and deserve,” Clemmons told the paper.

Clemmons, 41, will challenge incumbent David Briley, who was elected to fill the unexpired term of former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry last year. Because it is an off-year election, Clemmons won’t have to give up his House seat to run.

Clemmons defeated incumbent Rep. Gary Odom, a former House Democratic leader, in the 2014 primary for House District 55.