State representative decides not to run for office in order to work on his health and new law office
By Ken Whitehouse
03-04-2008 2:30 PM — State Rep. Rob Briley (D-Nashville) said today that he will not seek re-election to the state legislature in order to continue working on his health, his very public battle with alcoholism, and to devote more time to his newly opened law office. He has served in the Tennessee House of Representatives since 1999.
Last Sept. 8, Briley, 41, was arrested in Wilson County for driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident. The arrest, which was caught on video from the dashboard camera of the police patrol car, quickly put him on the national news and made him fodder for late-night talk show hosts.
Asked about the incident today, Briley said, "You know, my worst day ever is on tape. I'd like to say that really wasn't me, or I was just really out of sorts, but I know that I was the guy on the film and I don't want be that person again. I have been working very hard to rebuild my life, continuing with counseling and recovery programs. Alcoholism is only one small part of the many issues I am dealing with and in order to fully commit to recovery it is time to step down from the legislature by not standing for re-election."
Many people have told him that the legislature exacerbated his troubles, but he disputes that notion. Briley said, "The people up here, both Democrats and Republicans, are here for the right reasons. While we don't always agree, we all care about each other and the people we serve. When my problems became public, I was embraced by members of both parties, many of whom I battled with tooth and nail on legislative issues that at times became personal. At first, I concentrated on a few members who seemed to take satisfaction in my disgrace, but that didn't last long... Too many people from all factions of the legislature have come forward and showed me the meaning of the word 'statesman.'"
When asked if he would consider a political comeback in the future, Briley said that for now he simply wants to finish off his work in the legislature and concentrate on his health.
"I feel a need to finish what the people of my district elected me to do," said Briley. "That is to serve out this term. I know I let them down and I feel if I walk away before then I would be doing it again. They have been there for me and have overwhelmingly supported me throughout, even more so after my troubles became public. They have meant more to me than they know, and for that I am eternally grateful."