Top Republican stepping down from state House

State Rep. Tre Hargett, the top-ranking Republican in the state House, is resigning from the Legislature to take a position with a national drug manufacturer, fellow legislators said today.

The House minority leader, 36, declined immediate comment. Colleagues said he will formally announce that he will become a full-time regional representative with Pfizer Inc., a pharmaceutical company that maintains an active lobbying presence in Tennessee.

House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh said Hargett has been "a great member of the Legislature, who always put the state of Tennessee first and other entities and politics second."

"I am going to miss him personally and professionally," said Naifeh. "Pfizer is the winner in this. The state of Tennessee, the people in his district are the losers in this.... I think he was a moderate lawmaker who could see both sides of the issue."

State Rep. Jason Mumpower, R-Bristol, the assistant House minority leader, said he admires Hargett and respects his decision.

"I know he needs to do what's best for his family. I wish him all the best," said Mumpower.

Mumpower said it's early to be discussing Hargett's successor, but "that's something I might be interested in" and "will be taking a look at."

Members of the House Republican Caucus are planning to discuss Hargett's move on a conference call later today and are expected to schedule a caucus meeting where Hargett's successor would be chosen.

Hargett has been a member of the joint House-Senate ethics committee that is studying ethics reform laws. Among the proposals being considered - and supported in the past by Hargett - is a so-called "anti-revolving door" law that would require legislators to wait a year after leaving office to take a job as a lobbyist.

Reportedly, Hargett's new position with Pfizer will entail lobbying in the Southern region - including Tennessee.