Statement from State Senator Joe Haynes: Reflections on The American Way
February 3, 2012
In 1984, I made a decision to run for the Tennessee State Senate. Little did I know when I made that decision that some 28 years later I would still be serving in that body.
Today, I am faced with a decision about whether or not to offer myself for re-election to continue my service.
There is an interesting symmetry in the circumstances surrounding the decision I had to make in 1984 and the decision I face in 2012. In 1984, the ruling Democratic majority literally changed the district to exclude my home in an attempt to protect a Democratic incumbent. This year, the ruling Republican majority has radically changed my district in an attempt to draw a district more favorable to a Republican candidate.
In 1984, the incumbent state senator I was intent on challenging walked out of the room where the district was changed and defended the action as “The American Way.” The gerrymander of the district backfired after my wife, Barbara, and I moved from our home into a tiny apartment and ran the campaign by focusing on the theme of “The American Way.” The crass manipulation of the district by the political insiders struck a chord with voters and I defeated the incumbent state senator and went on to win the general election.
Interestingly enough, I eventually became the Chairman of the same Senate Democratic Caucus that voted to draw my home out of the senate district.
This year, in spite of their best efforts, the Republican majority has drawn a new district that I am confident I can win. I have always worked closely with Democrats, Republicans and Independents to create legislation and support public policies that were best for Tennessee.
The secretive process used by the Republican majority to draw legislative districts, without consultation of Democrats or concern for historical district lines or communities of mutual interest, was offensive to my sense of fair play. My decision about whether to run or not was not influenced by the change in the district. If anything, the Republican majority succeeded in stirring my competitive juices which encouraged me to run for another term.
My service, however, has never been about me and my political ego. During my life of public service, 12 years on the Goodlettsville City Commission and 28 years in the Tennessee State Senate, I have always tried to hold true to “The American Way.”
The ideas and ideals that make up this great republic have been my guide. Life. Liberty. The Pursuit of Happiness. The Rule of Law. Fairness. Honesty. Justice. Mercy. These are all parts of “The American Way.” That’s always been why I ran for office. That’s always been why I served.
I have sought simply to serve the people, to represent them with governors of both parties and to stand on the floor of the Tennessee State Senate to give a voice to the voiceless. I sought to provide representation to the men and women who work hard and play by the rules. I fought to create strong schools for our children. I have voted for fair taxation and efficient government. I have helped build roads and bidges all over Tennessee. I have done my part to support higher education as we built splendid colleges, universities and technical schools in every part of Tennessee. I worked with my wife, Barbara, to reform criminal sentencing in Tennessee to make it fairer and more rational. Through my service I have battled to care for the sick, feed and clothe the needy and protect the weak, elderly and infirm.
I am in good health. I work out several times a week and take great joy in the time I have with my wife Barbara, who recently retired from the bench, and our children, Jeff, Mandy and Scott and their spouses. Barbara and I have been blessed with grandchildren and we enjoy the embrace of our large, loving family.
The sweet siren call of my family, a huge stack of unread books and a little used fishing boat demand my attention now. That is why I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for the Tennessee State Senate in 2012. I will serve out my term and continue my fight for “The American Way.” I will continue to practice law in the law firm I founded 46 years ago.
I have fought the good fight. I have run the race, I have given over a substantial part of my life to the pursuit of “The American Way” for myself and for those whom it has been my privilege to represent. I am proud of my service and humbled by the confidence the people have placed in me time and time again.