Rep. Matthew Hill says he feels good about his chances of becoming speaker

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Republican lawmakers in Tennessee will meet in Nashville on July 24 to choose their nominee for the next speaker of the House of Representatives.

With the GOP in firm control of state government, it’s likely the winner will be the next speaker when the House convenes in special session August 23rd.

Of the six candidates running for speaker of the House, only one is from Northeast Tennessee, Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough).

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE CANDIDATES

  •  Ryan Williams
  • Curtis Johnson
  • Jay Reedy
  • Matthew Hill
  • Mike Carter
  • Cameron Sexton

“Based on even the most conservative method for vote-counting, I feel good about our chances,” Hill told News Channel 11’s Josh Smith in a one-on-one interview.

After 15 years of winning the public’s vote, Hill is now trying to win the votes of his fellow lawmakers. To accomplish that, he’s crisscrossing the state to gather support in hopes of replacing ousted House Speaker Glen Casada, the once-powerful politician whose career ended in scandal.

“This next speaker, whoever they are, their number one job is to restore faith in the House of Representatives and in the Tennessee Legislature,” said Hill, who was picked by Casada to be his deputy speaker.

Hill says he was just as shocked as everyone else by the scandals surrounding the former speaker, including revelations of drug use by Casada’s former chief of staff and inappropriate text messages linked directly to the speaker.

“Every time you thought ‘this is it, we’re done now’ then something else would come out,” Hill said.

Records show Hill recently raised about $60,000 through a political action committee and gave away thousands to fellow Republicans through donations and dinners, something the Tennessean newspaper called “borrowing from Glen Casada’s playbook.”

“I’ve given out money to people I know aren’t voting for me,” Hill said, explaining that he did it to prove he could raise money to support to his fellow GOP lawmakers, one of the duties that come with being speaker.

Hill says the next speaker will be tasked with returning the focus to the successes of the state government, instead of its scandals.

“We were sent to do good things,” Hill said. “And we have done a lot of good things. And a lot of things we were able to do in bipartisan fashion.”

The Republican Caucus vote will be held at 9 a.m. central time next Wednesday. Hill says it could take several rounds of voting before the party has its nominee.

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