Davidson County state Rep. Beth Harwell, once among a few Middle Tennessee Republicans serving in the Tennessee General Assembly, was re-elected by an overwhelming majority Tuesday evening to an 11th term representing the 56th state House District.
Harwell, first elected in 1988, easily turned back Democratic software developer Matthew Kenigson to represent the suburban Nashville district.
"I express my gratitude to the people of the 56th District for allowing me to continue to serve them," Harwell said.
While her return to office is no surprise, the real question is whether Harwell might be Tennessee's first female Speaker of the House.
Harwell's name has been bandied about for the position, and she briefly entered contention for the spot two years ago when Republicans gained a one-seat majority. In the end, Harwell deferred to Republican House Leader Jason Mumpower, R-Bristol, who was eventually defeated for the post in a surprise move from House Democrats, who installed "Carter County Republican" Kent Williams as speaker.
Other Republicans expected to vie for speaker include Rep. Glen Casada (Franklin), Rep. Harry Brooks (Knoxville) and Rep. Gerald McCormick (Chattanooga).