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First Candidate Throws Hat In Ring For Tennessee Speaker Of The House

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - The race for a top leader in the Tennessee legislature has its first official candidate. State capitol newsroom reporter Chris Bundgaard looks at why Curtis Johnson wants to be Speaker of the House.

Johnson entered the speaker's race as he endorsed the current speaker Beth Harwell for Governor.

“We have worked together for 16-years and I can honestly say that she played a big part, a huge part in my election,” said Rep. Johnson.

The Montgomery County Republican chaired the Tennessee House Opioid Task Force, which set the stage for this year's $30-million bill to fight the epidemic. Representative Johnson is also in House leadership, in what's called the Speaker Pro Tem role, but what propels him to want the top role?

“I have worked my way through the ranks. I serve as Speaker Pro Tem now and I am ready for the challenge to be speaker,” said Rep. Johnson.

You will never find Rep. Johnson making a loud angry speech on capitol hill. He sees other strengths that he would bring the speaker's role.

“I think leadership ability, the ability to work with people on both sides of the aisle,” said Rep. Johnson.

That means he could potentially attract some Democrat votes in what is expected to be a crowded field of Republicans hoping to be speaker.

There are at least four other potential candidates for House speaker.

Those thinking about running for speaker include House Republican leader Glen Casada, former House leader Gerald McCormick, East Tennessee Rep. David Hawk, and West Tennessee Rep. Tim Wirgau.

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