Naifeh announced he will run for re-election next year and undergo surgery for prostate cancer next week. The cancer was discovered early and the prognosis is good.

As House speaker, Naifeh is among the top three or four officials in state government. He has served in the legislature since 1974, rose through the ranks and has been speaker since 1991, tying former governor Ned McWherter as the longest-serving House speaker in Tennessee history.


Naifeh is not expected to have a major opponent in next August’s Democratic primary, but already has a Republican challenger in the general election just over a year away: Dr. Jesse Cannon, a Covington physician and businessman.


Naifeh’s House District 81 includes most of Tipton County and all of Haywood County. Although he is usually a GOP electoral target, efforts to unseat him heightened after he emerged two years ago as a leading advocate of tax reform centered around a state income. But he defeated Republican challenger Antonio Lopez, a retired Air Force officer, last November with 52.8 percent of the vote.

As Mike of Half-Bakered notes:

No mention of the gerry-mandering Naifeh engineered to make sure his increasingly Republican Tipton County was supplemented by the still Democratic Haywood County so that he could keep his seat. Without Haywood, Naifeh would have lost; election results proved it. Nor is credit given to Lopez, who entered the race at literally the last minute and ran a write in campaign against the State’s most powerful and feared legislator. Cannon emerged later as a “standard” candidate and has been constantly and carefully building a network for his run. It should prove interesting and you can bet I’ll be covering it.