Tennessee House Republicans to Select a New Speaker on July 24

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A meeting of the Tennessee House Republican Caucus has been scheduled for Wednesday, July 24, to select a Republican nominee for Speaker of the House.

The meeting was called by House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland).

In a statement issued by Leader Lamberth Wednesday, he said his call for the caucus meeting came, “following conversations with our members of the last several days.”

Lamberth retweeted his announcement, which was picked up by Cameron Taylor of WSMV.

The purpose of the caucus meeting is to select the Republican nominee for Speaker of the House, who will eventually replace current Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin).

In a closed meeting and by secret ballot, Casada received a 45-24 vote of no confidence by the House GOP Caucus on May 20.

At an impromptu press conference following the three-hour meeting, Lamberth said that the House Republican Caucus vote “sent a clear message” that sexist racist and similar behaviors is not acceptable in leadership, the House or anywhere, as reported by The Tennessee Star.

Lamberth was referring to the three-year-old texts between the then House GOP Press Secretary Cade Cothren, who Casada promoted to his Chief of Staff when he was elected Speaker of the House in January.

Announced candidates for the position include Representatives Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah), Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough), Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) and Jay Reedy (R-Erin).

Although formal announcements have not been made, Representatives rumored to also be considering a run include Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville), Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station, Robin Smith (R-Hixson) and Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville).

Speaker Pro Tempore Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) is next in the line of succession to be Speaker. While some gamesmanship could be employed to try to elect Dunn to the position on the House floor if he does not run or win the selection at the Caucus meeting, the Bylaws of the House Republican Caucus require that members vote for the Caucus nominee for Speaker or face automatic expulsion from the Caucus.

It is unclear whether the GOP Caucus meeting will open up elections for positions other than Speaker or address any other issues.

For instance, Representative Rick Tillis (R-Lewisburg), in his second term and elected as the Majority Whip in November 2018, was the reported operator of an anonymous Twitter account, @CHBmole, that was active for nearly three months disparaging Tennessee State House members and staff.

Another potential issue relates to Representative David “Coach” Byrd (R-Waynesboro) who has been accused of sexual misconduct 30 years ago and whether his expulsion from the House might be taken up during the upcoming Caucus meeting. Byrd was re-elected to his third term representing District 71 with 78 percent of the vote against his Democrat opponent, even though the audio that alleges his misconduct was released prior to the November 2018 election.

While there have been calls for the expulsion of Byrd and even Casada primarily from Democrats and leftist protestors, it would take a vote of four-fifths of the Republican Caucus membership in order to do so.

Casada has announced that his resignation will be effective August 2, at 8 a.m., which happens to be his 60th birthday. While Casada was accused of staying on for two months after his return from vacation on June 3 to benefit his pension, as Nashville Public Radio reported, Tennessee Department of Treasury and Office of Legislative Administration advised that Casada’s pension will not be impacted positively or negatively.

Governor Bill Lee has said he plans to call a special session so that a new Speaker could be elected, however, a date after Casada’s August 2 resignation has not yet been announced.

The House Republican meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. on July 24, according to the email containing Lamberth’s announcement, although a location has yet to be determined.

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Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.
Photo “Mike Carter” by Mike Carter. Background Photo “Tennessee General Assembly” by Tennessee General Assembly

 

 

 

 

 

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