House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh ponders run in 2014 governor race

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 11:50pm

The 2014 race for governor is unofficially beginning as leading House Democrat Craig Fitzhugh considers a run for governor.

Sources close to the minority leader told The City Paper the Ripley Democrat is planning to put his name on the ballot for the state’s top job.

When asked directly whether he would run for governor, Fitzhugh said “I wouldn’t rule it out at all.”

“I’ve got some experience, good, bad or otherwise. And feel like I understand the issues of this state, understand the budgetary process and just am concerned with some of the fundamentals of our state. Before we step too far back, we just need to keep things moving forward,” he told The City Paper Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, before the House Democratic Caucus, Fitzhugh had played an audio montage of classic comeback speeches, including “Inch-by-Inch” from the film Any Given Sunday, saying it was time for Democrats to have “somebody at the top that we can rally around.”

Fitzhugh has served in the legislature for just less than 20 years, largely as the caucus’ budget guru. He first ran for minority leader and won in 2010. He was re-elected to that post Wednesday.

“If we can have a viable statewide candidate at the next general election that espouses the views of many Tennesseans — which happens to be the views of many Democrats ... even though it would be running against a multimillionaire, Senate seats, House seats, somebody can rally around at those levels and we can start bringing our house back,” he told The City Paper.

“We’re in a tough position, and we’re in a crossroad where we could just continue to be small and let people sort of run over us, let the other side run over us,” he said. “Or we can start clawing our way back. So I think that’s what our people want to do.”

At the caucus elections, members voted to keep Old Hickory Rep. Mike Turner as the group’s chairman despite a challenge from Bolivar Rep. Johnny Shaw who argued the caucus lacked adequate transparency, should be more inclusive and more willing to work with Republicans in their new super majorities.

Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican in the middle of his first term, currently enjoys a 68 percent approval rating, according to a poll released Wednesday by Vanderbilt University. Of 829 registered voters surveyed, 60 percent of those surveyed who identified themselves as Democrats thought favorably of the governor.

7 Comments on this post:

By: PKVol on 12/13/12 at 8:26

This is nothing more than setting up for 2018... unless things turn drastically downward, the 2014 race will be nothing more than a referendum on Haslam.

By: TimSkow on 12/13/12 at 9:18

Tim Skow
Some DEMs have been trying to coax my cat into being the 2014 nominee for GOV as well.. NO doubt, my cat would pose just as much of a threat to Gov Haslam as Craig "Fitz-WHO??? " Guess its time the City Paper did some quoting of my cat as well, if they are going to waste time, space & ink quoting Craig "Fitz-WHO???"

By: Jughead on 12/13/12 at 10:50

I hope Chippie Forrester runs. He'd be a barrel of idiocy and laughter.

By: Left-of-Local on 12/13/12 at 11:16

I just want Tim McGraw's music career to get slow enough that he finally takes the ball and runs. He's a Democrat, and would DECIMATE the GOP. No self-respecting rednecks will be able to keep from voting for him, the hip and smart folks like him, too, already... they'd be a sexy First Couple. The deck is stacked. Just need him to jump in.

By: Jughead on 12/13/12 at 11:39

The only problem is the Tim McGraw is a friggin Hollywood DOLT. Yea--he's made a boatload--but you cannot fix stupid. And, he is as stupid as it gets.

Plus--I'm a redneck--I would never vote for his LA liberal ass.

By: yucchhii on 12/14/12 at 9:39

Just another CRIMINAL!! POLITICIAN = CRIMINAL!! Democrat or Republican matters NOT!!

By: pswindle on 12/16/12 at 1:06

I think that Haslam may be done. He, his Father and other close friends sold the state a run down old building to use as a Comminuty college. at the tune of 10M and the friend bought it for 5M and it will take 18M to make it usable.The educational Commissioner was in it up to his eyeball along with Haslam's Father .His friend wanted the deal done before the close of the year, he wanted to pay as little taxes as possible. Watch out the next thning that will be gone is the inheritance tax. We must protect Haslam and his Family's money. Doing away with unions and having a right to work state, helps the Haslam in all of their businesses. The most important thing is that they can pay low, low wages and not meet the standards of the unions. I do believe that TN has gone crazy to vote for a GOP. They are not going to help you. They help themselves at your expense.
Wake up. TN before it is too late. America did and not elect Mitt. Mitt is another business man with deep pockets.