House Speaker Beth Harwell faces challenge for new term

House Speaker Beth Harwell
(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – House Speaker Beth Harwell is facing a challenge from fellow Republican Rep. Jimmy Matlock as she seeks another term in charge of the lower chamber of the Tennessee General Assembly.

Republican House members are scheduled to meet on Thursday afternoon to hold their leadership elections. As the GOP controls 74 of 99 seats in the House, the caucus nomination likely makes the formal for speaker vote among all members in January a formality.

Harwell, a former professor from Nashville, became Tennessee’s first female speaker when she was first elected in 2011. She has faced persistent criticism from a small group of conservative backbenchers, but was been easily been re-elected to the chamber’s top leadership post in 2012 and 2014.

Matlock is a Lenoir City businessman whom Harwell appointed transportation chairman.