The Tennessee General Assembly has re-appointed Tre Hargett as secretary of state, though some Democratic members of the state House and Senate are saying they have lost faith in him.
The informal no-confidence vote by Democrats was announced before the legislature convened in a joint session to elect the state’s three constitutional officers — secretary of state, treasurer and comptroller.
In a news release, the superminority said Hargett has a “record of pushing anti-democratic legislation and repeated court losses.”
“In the middle of a pandemic, the secretary of state used the power of his office to undermine voter safety and kill bipartisan election reforms that would have made voting easier and more accessible to all Tennesseans,” said Senate Minority Leader Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville. “We cannot, in good conscience, support his appointment to a new four-year term.”
Hargett opposed expanding absentee voting during the pandemic, as well as making fear of contracting COVID-19 a qualifying excuse to receive an absentee ballot. In the past, he has also pushed for measures that would have fined groups conducting voter registration drives for submitting incomplete forms.
The final vote on Hargett’s appointment was 112-0. Twelve out of the General Assembly’s 32 Democrats abstained.
“I’m so grateful to be able to serve along side you regardless what your political ideology is,” Hargett said. “We need to be respectful to one another. We can disagree without being disagreeable.”
Hargett appointment is for four years.
Legislature selects new comptroller
The legislature also elected on Wednesday the new comptroller of the state.
Jason Mumpower is known to lawmakers. He served in the legislature for 14 years prior to joining the leadership at the Comptroller’s Office.
He is replacing Justin Wilson, who served in the role for 12 years and worked with Republican and Democratic administrations. In December, Wilson announced he was not seeking the re-election.
“I have learned from the best,” Mumpower said. “All I am going to say is, ‘Let’s make government work better!'”
Meanwhile, David Lillard was re-elected as state treasurer.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated how many Democrats in the legislature abstained from the vote to approve Secretary of State Tre Hargett. It was 12, not 18.