Power shift in Tennessee politics

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - There is a shift of power in Tennessee. Democrats dominated the state's House and Senate for decades, but now the Republicans are in charge.

As of January, the Republican party will hold the majority in the Tennessee House and Senate. This is the first time that has happened since Reconstruction.  And now, many are wondering how state leadership will or will not change.

"Certainly as a democrat I'm a little dismayed by that to a degree, but it has happened before in each of the house," District 82 house member Craig Fitzhugh said.

Fitzhugh was surprised by one change, the Republican power shift in the Tennessee House and Senate.

But no matter who is in control, Fitzhugh says both sides will have to work together to get things done.

"There is a rising tide of Republicanism that has swept across the state," Tennessee representative elect Barrett Rich said.

And with that new tide, analysts said House leaders like longtime speaker Jimmy Naifeh are in jeopardy of losing their leadership roles.

"I don't think Naifeh's going to hold on to his seat and if he does, you can expect fireworks in the Republican party," political analyst Dr. Larry Moore said.

"I can't speak for them or Speaker Naifeh but I will say the next few months will be interesting around the state house," Fitzhugh said.
And because legislative control has changed, political analysts said all eyes will be on Tennessee until the next big election.

Analysts said it is up to state Democrats to try and improve their standing in Tennessee to be a viable part of the next state election in 2010.

Click here to e-mail Justin Hanson.