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VOL. 38 | NO. 9 | Friday, February 28, 2014

State Rep. Mike Turner retiring after 14 years

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NASHVILLE (AP) - House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner said Thursday that he will not seek re-election because he wants to spend more time with his family and explore a run for Nashville mayor.

Turner told members of the House of Representatives on Thursday that he will retire at the end of the year after serving 14 years in District 51, which covers the areas of Old Hickory, Madison, east Nashville, downtown Nashville and Germantown.

"This is a hard place to quit," Turner said in an emotional address to his colleagues. "But I will not be running this time around."

The 59-year-old, who has served as caucus chairman since 2009, later told reporters that his family was a major factor in his decision.

"After some hard thoughts, ... my family and I have decided it's time for me to move on to the next stretch of my life," said Turner, who has three daughters. "We're going to take a trip or two with the girls this summer."

< P>He said he's also strongly considering a run for mayor.

"That's a little ways off yet, but ... I'm serious about that. I'm going to talk to some people."

As for the Legislature, Turner's colleagues said his leadership will be missed.

"Mike Turner is the epitome of a public servant," said House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley. "He has been a tireless voice for middle-class families, organized labor and the city of Nashville."

House Speaker Beth Harwell said she and Turner "don't always see eye to eye," but she understands "his principles come from a place of genuine conviction."

"He has always been a strong advocate for his district and later, in leadership, for his caucus," said Harwell, R-Nashville.

Despite the Republican-dominated Legislature, Turner said there are several Democrats - including some family members - who have expressed interest in running for his seat. President Barack Obama won the district with 66 percent of t he vote in 2012; Turner was uncontested in his race.

"I can probably name you five I think will probably pick up papers ... and one or two of them may be kin to me," said Turner, who didn't specify the prospective candidates.

Turner is the second Democrat to announce his retirement within the past several months.

Last month, Democratic State Rep. Charles Curtiss stepped down after serving for 19 years. Curtiss announced in October that he wouldn't run again for his District 43 seat that includes Grundy, Warren and White counties.

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