State Rep. Mike Carter (R-TN-29) of Ooltewah reportedly wrote to all House chairmen and vice chairmen in his bid to become the next Speaker, multiple media outlets report.
Carter promises fair treatment to all members without retribution, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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 to replace Rep. Glen Casada (R-TN-63) of Franklin in the position, The Tennessee Star reported. The next day, Gov. Bill Lee called for a special session of the Legislature to be held on Friday, Aug. 23 at 10 a.m. to vote for the replacement.
In his letter, Carter told the chairmen and vice chairs they would keep their positions, the Times Free Press said.
Carter did not return a phone call from The Star regarding the letter.
According to a story by the Tennessee Journal: On the Hill, Carter told the chairmen:
My request to serve you as Speaker is not about me, it’ s about you. I promise to use the Speaker’s office to promote each of you as the “Elected Official” in your district. This will begin with fair treatment to all and retribution to none. You will be asked to vote your conscience and your district not what others tell you to do for their benefit, not yours. Threats and intimidation will not be tolerated. Every member earned the trust and the vote of their district and represents approximately 67,000 people. Your obligations belong to those constituents not the Speaker. To that end I pledge to make myself available at your request for public meetings to promote your leadership and to raise essential funds for your re-election efforts.
I am forming a Speaker’s PAC to be professionally managed and maintained to raise funds for your re-election efforts. I pledge that none of the funds raised to will go to me or my campaign. The Speaker’s PAC will support members and approved candidates only.
Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill said, “I’m not sure whether Rep. Carter’s promise of status quo for Committee Chairs wins him enough votes from those members to get to the 37 votes needed to become Speaker. Other candidates are likely making similar promises, though on a more targeted basis.”
“His pledge to be willing to let Members vote however they wish with no strong-arm pressure will appeal to many…until it is their bill being killed in a sub-committee rather than moving forward to a full vote,” Gill said.
“Ultimately, making it though the first few rounds of votes will depend on personality and convincing members that a candidate has a real chance to emerge as Speaker,” Gill said. “Even if you can’t be somebody’s first choice you need to be their second…and I think that’s how Carter’s letter was attempting to position him.”
Carter’s letter is very similar to a letter he wrote to all House Republican House members in May when he announced his desire to run for Speaker, according to a Tennessee Star story on May 23.
Also in May, Carter complained about a series of meetings held with individual members of the House Ethics Committee, chaired by Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesboro), on Monday, May 13, The Star reported. The meetings were held in an effort to develop an approved advisory opinion regarding certain facts surrounding alleged actions of Casada. Hill later indicated that the meetings with individual members of the committee were necessary in view of the quickly developing story and the need to get input from members within a timeline that did not permit a full meeting.
Carter claimed the development of an advisory opinion that had been requested by Casada was part of an attempt by Casada, through Hill, to protect his speakership.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.