Bristol Republican Jason Mumpower says he often refers to himself as Tennessee’s House minority leader “to gig myself with the term minority” and as a reminder that he is fighting to win a majority.
Mumpower needs four seats for Republicans to win that majority and replace Democrat Jimmy Naifeh as the House speaker.
While the 2008 legislative session just ended, the Memorial Day weekend signals the unofficial start of Mumpower’s campaign season. He is targeting anywhere from five to eight House seats for Republicans to win this year, including the 2nd House District seat held by Democratic incumbent Nathan Vaughn of Kingsport.
“I’m already booked at fund-raisers and events for candidates in the east, middle and western part of the state, and I will help my incumbent members stay elected and pick up new seats where we can,” Mumpower said.
But if he doesn’t get his majority, Mumpower said he will still seek the House GOP leader’s post again in early 2009. House Republicans voted for him to be their leader in 2007 over Knoxville Republican Bill Dunn.
“As leader you’re involved in absolutely everything that goes on,” Mumpower said. “I think I was able to serve as a good voice for my members and my caucus, and work closely with both sides of the aisle and the governor.”
But when he’s speaking to Republican crowds, Mumpower often refers to the House as a “graveyard for good legislation.” This year, he listed failures to enact reforms in DUI laws and a long-standing resolution to amend Tennessee’s Constitution and allow voters to weigh in on restricting abortion.
Still, Mumpower called the 2008 legislative session a “good year,” with lawmakers adjusting the required GPA from 3.0 to 2.75 so more HOPE scholarship recipients can retain their scholarships and complete college.
He also hailed the passage of long-term care legislation designed to help physically disabled seniors in the state’s TennCare program.
“It’s going to help people remain at home and receive some care at home,” Mumpower, a member of the House Health and Human Resources Committee, said of the bill.
Finally, Mumpower indicated there were few differences among lawmakers who passed a tighter $27.5 billion budget that eliminated more than 2,000 state jobs through voluntary buyouts.
“It was certainly, in the end, a tighter budget than we would have wanted to have,” he said. “But it’s part of the economic cycle we’re in. We’re not experiencing anything other states aren’t experiencing. I think we crafted a responsible, fiscally conservative budget, and I think we’re going to be headed back next year with a budget that is even tighter. We left ourselves in good shape to be able to go back next year and do what’s right.”
For more about Mumpower go to www.legislature.state.tn.us. Click on “House” and then “Members.”