Tennessee’s Longest-Serving State Senator Reflects On His Legacy

Henry says he's mostly been an "administration man," meaning he generally preferred to back plans from the governor's office unless they had specific problems. Credit: Blake Farmer/WPLN

Henry says he’s mostly been an “administration man,” meaning he generally preferred to back plans from the governor’s office unless they had specific problems. Credit: Blake Farmer/WPLN

Longtime State Senator Doug Henry today confirmed his retirement plans and took a look back at his political career, which began in the mid-1950s.

The Belle Meade Democrat served one term in the Tennessee House, then took office as Senator in 1970. The 87-year old will not seek reelection next year.

Henry helped establish the State Museum, Bicentennial Mall and Radnor Lake State Natural Area. He’s especially proud of work he did to set up a rainy day fund for the state, and to pass laws protecting children and senior citizens.

Henry says he always thought it was important to attend neighborhood events in his district, even if some folks complained that he never stopped politicking.

“You know, shaking hands is not just a device to get elected. Shaking hands means you hear from people about what’s of interest to them. It’s invaluable.”

When Henry began his career, the Democratic party dominated Tennessee politics. Now the GOP has that position. When asked about the future for his party in the state Henry said the national office meddles too much, trying to create cookie-cutter organizations in every state that don’t line up with the way he thinks many Tennesseans see themselves.


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