Tuesday, December 3, 2002

BARTLETT'S HARGETT TO LEAD GOP IN HOUSE

BARTLETT'S HARGETT TO LEAD GOP IN HOUSE

Posted By on Tue, Dec 3, 2002 at 4:00 AM

Tre Hargett of Bartlett, the newly elected leader of the Republicans in the state House of Representatives, eschewed crowing in favor of humility Monday night as he reflected on his victory over former minority leader Steve McDaniel of Parker’s Crossroads and another challenger, Bobby Wood . of Harrison.

“When you run against a friend, whether you win or lose, it’s never easy,” Hargett said, and he was hesitant about an observation from a fellow Shelby Countian, GOP national committeeman John Ryder, who compared Hargett’s victory to the ascension of Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the U.S. House after the 1994 election.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t like the analogy. I was never a Newt Gingrich kind of Republican. I consider myself more of a centrist, and I’m not about divisiveness,” said the plain-spoken Hargett, who loosened up and gratefully accepted the compliment when assured that Ryder was not commenting on what he perceived as similar political philosophies but on the likelihood that Hargett, like Gingrich, would refuse to accept the long-term inevitability of minority-party status for Republicans.

“It’s an honor that the public granted us its trust by awarding us three more seats,” said the man who succeeds McDaniel as the guide for a body of Republicans enlarged to 45 by last month’s election.

Hargett, who won a second-ballot runoff against McDaniel, acknowledged that shifts brought about the election may have aided his victory, but de-emphasized his differences with the former leader over a state income tax, which McDaniel supported and Hargett rejected.

“I think we’ll have to concentrate in this next session on issues and not personalities,” said Hargett, who named “the continuing fiscal strain” and implementation of a state lottery as two matters the legislature will need to address.

The House GOP caucus also elected H.E. Biddle of Knoxville as assistant leader, Rep. Charles Sargent of Frankling as chairman, and Paul Stanley of Germantown as treasurer.

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