In this undated photo, state Rep. Jimmy Naifeh (D-Covington) stands next to Gov. Ned McWherter at the state Capitol in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo submitted)
State Rep. Jimmy Naifeh of Covington is being honored with the Governor Ned Ray McWherter Legacy Award for his decades-long career in public service, according to a Tennessee Democratic Party press release.
The award will be presented during the party’s annual Jackson Day Dinner, scheduled for Saturday, March 31, in Nashville.
Naifeh announced March 8 he would not seek re-election to the Tennessee General Assembly. He has represented District 81 for 38 years, of which 18 were served as House speaker.
“Throughout his many years of service, Naifeh has worked hard to mentor a generation of lawmakers in the art of representing their districts and the people of Tennessee,” said Chip Forrester, chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, a press release.
The award carries special meaning for Naifeh, who was elected as speaker the same year McWherter began his second term as governor.
During Naifeh’s farewell address to the General Assembly last week, he said he considered McWherter a mentor in both life and politics.
Naifeh was considered an important McWherter ally, and he spearheaded the implementation of several of the administration’s initiatives, including education policies, road projects, and in-state health care programs.
“While they may not have known it at the time,” Forrester said, “all Tennesseans have benefitted from his exceptional leadership in state government during his time as speaker and as a representative.”