State Rep. Charles Sargent will not seek re-election, after more than two decades in the Tennessee House of Representatives.
The Franklin Republican announced the decision Thursday morning, citing health reasons — namely, the need to seek treatment related to a previous bout with skin cancer. Sargent plans to serve out the remainder of his term, which runs for another year.
In a statement, House Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams praised Sargent as a "fierce advocate for students and educators," as well as a lawmaker who has possessed a deep knowledge of the state budget.
Sargent's retirement could bring about a major shift in the legislature. Sargent is one of the most important Republican lawmakers behind the scenes. He chairs the House Finance Committee, which gives him a lot of say over controversial legislation.
That's opened him to the criticism from hard-right Republicans that he's too moderate. In recent elections, they've tried to unseat him, and Sargent's retirement could open the door for a more conservative lawmaker to take his place. It may also make it harder for centrists to bottle up legislation.
John Harris, executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association, cheered Sargent's announcement. He compared Sargent to another Tennessee lawmaker who recently decided to retire.
"Just as Bob Corker likely saw the writing on the wall and announced his 'retirement' rather than face an embarrassing defeat, Establishment Republican Charles Sargent, whom Tennessee Firearms Association has targeted twice in 2014 and 2016 with election challengers, has announced his 'retirement,'" Harris wrote.