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William Lewis "Bill" Jenkins (born November 29, 1936) is a politician from the state of Tennesseemarker. He has represented the state's 1st Congressional district, centered around the Tri-Cities ( map), from 1997 until his successor was sworn in on January 3, 2007.

Background and education

Jenkins was born in Detroit, Michiganmarker to parents from Rogersville, Tennesseemarker. He is a seventh-generation Tennessean. He served in the United States Army from 1959 to 1960, and graduated from Tennessee Technological Universitymarker and the University of Tennesseemarker College of Law.

Political career

Jenkins was elected to the Tennessee General Assembly as a Republican in 1962 and he served as Speaker of the House from 1969 to 1971-- , the only Republican to hold that position since Reconstruction. He unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for Governor of Tennessee in 1970, was a Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Conservation, serving in the Cabinet of Winfield Dunn, and according to his website biography, he was a senior policy advisor on energy and legislative issues for Governor Lamar Alexander.

Jenkins was the only Republican to serve as Speaker of the Tennessee House in the 20th century. He was also one of the youngest persons to ever hold the office.

Jenkins served on the board of directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority from 1971 to 1978, and he was a circuit court judge for Tennessee's Third Judicial District from 1990 to 1996.

Running for Congress

On May 10, 1996, he resigned his judgeship to run for the House of Representatives from the First Congressional District after 17-term incumbent Jimmy Quillen announced his retirement.

The 12-way primary election was watched very closely in Tennessee Republican circles, as the district is so heavily Republican that whoever won the primary was all but assured of being the district's next congressman. The First District has been in Republican hands for all but four years since 1859.

Although Jenkins did not secure Quillen's endorsement for the primary, he narrowly won with 18% of the vote and breezed to election in November.

Reelection and legislation

He was reelected four times without serious opposition, and ran unopposed in 2000 and 2002. He won a fifth term in 2004 with 74% of the vote.

Jenkins has kept a relatively low profile in Congress in contrast to Quillen and B. Carroll Reece, who between them represented the 1st District for all but seven of the 76 years before Jenkins won the seat. His voting record has been staunchly conservative.

Best bass fisherman in Congress

As seen on ESPN: "After the final cast was made, however, bragging rights for the title of "best bass fishermen in Congress" went to U.S. Representative Bill Jenkins (R-TN), who teamed up with BASS Elite Series pro Dave Wolak and Toyota's Charlie Ing to finish with five bass weighing 18 pounds, 9 ounces.

Fittingly, the 70-year-old legislator from Tennessee also posted the largest fish of the event, a 4 ½-pound largemouth that he caught in Mattawoman Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River in Marylandmarker."


On February 15, 2006, Jenkins announced that he would not run for a sixth term. He said that he wanted to spend more time with his family since he is turning 70 in November.

See also

Electoral history

: Results 1996–2004
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct Independent Votes Pct Independent Votes Pct
1996 Kay C. Smith 58,657 32% 117,676 65% Dave Davis 1,947 1% James B. Taylor 1,089 1% *
1998 Kay C. White 30,710 31% William L. Jenkins 68,904 69% *
2000 (no candidate) William L. Jenkins 157,828 100% *
2002 (no candidate) William L. Jenkins 127,300 99% Write-ins 1,586 1%
2004 56,361 24% William L. Jenkins 172,543 74% Ralph J. Ball 3,061 1% Michael Peavler 1,595 1%

*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1996, Bill Bull Durham received 885 votes; John Curtis received 621 votes; Mike Fugate received 440 votes; Paul Schmidt received 367 votes; and write-ins received 26 votes.
In 1998, write-ins received 75 votes.
In 2000, write-ins received 20 votes.


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