Harwell draws challenge for speaker from fellow Republican

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – State House Speaker Beth Harwell has drawn a challenge for the chamber’s top leadership post from fellow Republican Rep. Jimmy Matlock.

Harwell became the General Assembly’s first female speaker in 2011 and has fended off challenges from the tea party wing of her party to be re-elected speaker twice since then.

Matlock, a Lenoir City businessman, was appointed by Harwell as the chairman of the House Transportation Committee. In his letter announcing his bid on Tuesday, Matlock did not directly criticize Harwell or say specifically what he would do differently as speaker other than to unite the causes and provide support to all members.

Harwell is considering a 2018 gubernatorial bid to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.