Eddie Bass stepping aside

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

The former Giles County sheriff who's represented Marshall County in the state House since 2006 is retiring from the General Assembly.

State Rep. Eddie Bass, a Democrat who had considered running for re-election as a Republican, announced Monday morning that he will not be a candidate to represent the 70th District.

"An increase in his private business was a factor in deciding not to seek re-election in November," is how the Pulaski radio station reported it online when giving one of Bass' reasons to not run for another two-year term in the state House.

Bass currently represents the 63rd District. It includes all of Marshall County and all of Giles County. Bass was re-elected in 2010 over Lewisburg resident Bill Spivey, a Republican who's announced his intention to run for the new state House district that includes none of Giles County, but all of Marshall County and parts of Lincoln, Franklin and Marion counties.

Reapportionment, accomplished by the Republican-controlled state House, placed Giles County in a new 70th legislative district along with most of Lawrence County.

Bass is the eighth Democratic lawmaker to announce his retirement this year, a fact emphasized by leaders of the state Republican Party, although at least one of those state lawmakers, Sen. Eric Stewart, is not running for re-election to the state Legislature because he's challenging U.S. Rep. Scott Desjarlais, a first-term Republican in Congress.

Bass' flirtation with a party switch may have been thwarted when he angered Republican leaders by sponsoring a gun rights bill that they wanted to push off until next year, the Associated Press reported.

Supported by the National Rifle Association, the bill would force businesses to allow employees to store firearms in vehicles parked on company property.

Bass is serving his third term in the state House.

"While Republicans prepare for election night parties [Tuesday] night, the only functions Tennessee Democrats seem to be enjoying right now are retirement parties," Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney said in a prepared statement.

"Representative Bass was to face a strong Republican challenge, and his decision shows that Democrats are running from their records here in Tennessee, even in areas that are not clear-cut districts for Republicans," Devaney said.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Democratic Party's Web site quotes State Sen. Joe Haynes as saying, "The ruling Republican majority (in the state Legislature) has radically changed my district in an attempt to draw a district more favorable to a Republican candidate."

Haynes "was not influenced by the change in the district," he said, noting he moved to a small apartment 28 years ago to run for the seat he's relinquishing. Haynes, who served 12 years on the Goodlettsville City Commission, will continue his 46-year law practice and spend time with his family.

Attempts to reach Bass were unsuccessful.

"The Tennessee Democratic Party extends its gratitude to Representative Bass for his years of public service," said Party Chairman Chip Forrester. "Beginning with his career in public safety, Rep. Bass has always cared for the safety and well being of all Tennesseans. We wish him well in his future ventures.

While his departure from the General Assembly is a loss for the Democratic family, we look forward to supporting a Tennessee House candidate who believes in the core Democratic principles of growing opportunity and strengthening the middle class while continuing Representative Bass' efforts to protect our families and support the brave men and women in law enforcement."