In the spring of 1980 I told my Mother that I would like to run for the (Tennessee) House of Representatives. Mother, a teacher since 1960, had for many years been a strong supporter of Representative Shelby A. Rhinehart, Jr., a great advocate for Tennessee teachers. She asked, “Why do you want to do that?” I explained that our trip to Nashville in 1954 to pick up her Father, and my Grandfather, Representative Samuel T. Anderson at the end of that Legislative Session, still stood out clearly in my mind. In fact, I still possess a crystal clear memory of that day. Mother and I were guests of my Grandfather in the House Chamber. We had folding chairs next to his desk. Almost all other Members had guests as well and I remember Speaker James L. Bomar reading the entire list of guests and which Representative they accompanied. As our names were called Mother and I stood next to Granddaddy’s desk and after all the names were called there was loud applause from House Members and observers in the surrounding gallery. After the House was adjourned, Granddaddy took us down a flight of stairs and we entered Governor Frank Clement’s Office. The Governor was out of the office at that time so Granddaddy had me sit in the Governor’s chair. For some reason that day has remained untarnished in my memory.
Here we are, my Mother and I, twenty six years later and that memory is burning my brain. Without realizing it, at age eleven, my goal had become being a Member of the Tennessee House of Representatives. So, I explained to my Mother that since the memorable day twenty six years before, I had thought about being in the House.
Mom said, “You do know that Shelby Rhinehart is our Representative?”
“Sure, Mom”, I said, “I like Shelby just fine; I have just always wanted to run for the House of Representatives.”
Mom paused a few seconds and then she said, “I wish you wouldn’t do that.”
“Because I don’t know who I would vote for.”
Folks, there is an important political rule here; if you aren’t sure of your own Mother’s vote, you probably don’t want to run.
As it worked out, I did not run in 1980. Two years later, due to redistricting, a Senate District including Marion County came open, and I ran for that office. With my Mother’s and Shelby Rhinehart’s strong support, I won. I have not fulfilled my goal of being in the House of Representatives, but the Tennessee State Senate wasn’t a bad substitute.