The Republican-dominated Tennessee General Assembly today effectively chose its leaders for the next session. Though they won’t be official until voted on by the full House and Senate in January, House Speaker Beth Harwell, and Senate Speaker and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey each cruised to another term at the helm via their party’s legislative caucuses.
Ramsey’s re-election was unanimous, but Harwell faced a minor challenge from Rep. Rick Womick, who found 14 other caucus members to stand with him. Womick’s ultimate target in the ill-fated takeover bid wasn’t Harwell, of course, but was instead Gov. Bill Haslam. Womick’s criticism of Harwell was that she served as a mouthpiece for the Haslam administration; whereas, he contended, a House under his speakership would amplify the voice of the electorate who sent conservative members to Nashville, and who oppose the governor’s moderate positions on items like Common Core.
Another increasingly loud critic of Haslam is Rep. Joe Carr, who on Saturday mounted his own conservative-backed challenge, in this case for the chairman spot in the Tennessee Republican Party—with similar results. Carr has taken to Facebook in attacking Haslam. This comes mere days after running for the TNGOP chair as a “unity candidate.”
The style employed by each legislative chamber’s leadership is something to ponder. It can be debated whether Harwell shows enough independence from the governor; but she is often described as fair, intelligent, and deliberate by members of both parties. She does not come across as a firebrand.
Ramsey, an auctioneer by trade, embodies a bolder voice—particularly in online communications and press releases, thanks to his talented and sharp-tongued spokesperson. Given that Ramsey challenged Haslam for the 2010 GOP nomination for governor, it’s unlikely that he’d functionally appear anywhere close to the “puppet” moniker critics have attempted ascribe to Harwell. But even Ramsey stops short of appearing to openly defy Haslam…most of the time.
What would a Womick speakership have looked (and sounded) like? I suppose, for now, the answer is moot.
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and U.S. Sen. John McCain are betting on U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander to win re-election.
Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Elections Coordinator Mark Goins, and their staff have been commemorating National Voter Registration Month on social media by having various celebrities (if I may use the term) pose with a sign: “I’m registered to vote. Are you?”
On Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey contributed to the effort.
Now, for those of you who’ve been asleep or away, the person to Gov. Ramsey’s left (on the right side of the photo) is former Sen. Rosalind Kurita, a Democrat who cast the deciding vote in January 2007 that led to Ramsey’s current tenure as Speaker of the Senate. Former Lt. Gov. John S. Wilder had managed to hold on to the post despite a slight Republican majority, until Kurita’s vote tipped the balance.
The Tennessee Democratic Party responded by recruiting a candidate to run against Kurita in the next primary election, and further expressed their displeasure by overturning the results of said primary and ensconcing the rival, former Sen. Tim Barnes, as the party’s nominee in the general election.* Lawsuits followed.
Democratic House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh tweeted back at Ramsey with a one-word critique:
The moral of this story: Be sure to register, be sure to educate yourself on the candidates and issues, and be sure to vote. Your vote could make history.
*The Democratic Party argued that Republicans crossing party lines to vote for Kurita invalidated her primary win, which was by a 19-vote margin. Barnes served one term, then lost to Dr. Mark Green in the 2012 election.
After the Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld the state’s requirement of voters to show photo identification at the polls, but also upheld library cards as valid forms of identification, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said the following:
While allowing library cards clearly violates the legislative intent of this law, the court rightly affirmed the law’s constitutionality. Just yesterday, we saw Democrat Party voter fraud efforts make national news in Virginia, as the son of a U.S. Congressman was caught on tape explaining how to commit fraud at the ballot box. This is exactly the type of illegal behavior our law will stop. Tennessee’s voter ID law is necessary, proper and completely constitutional. This has been made plain by the courts and remains undisputed.
Secretary of State Tré Hargett plans to appeal the ruling on library cards.