Monday, July 10, 2006

Big desperate John

Kleinheider had a great post about the impending demise of Lt. Gov. John Wilder last week. For those of you outside of Tennessee, Wilder is an elected member of the State Senate and under Tennessee law, the presiding officer of the Senate, who is called the Speaker here, also serves as our Lieutenant Governor. Basically, the party that controls the majority in the State Senate will choose the Speaker of the upper chamber, and thus the Lieutenant Governor-that's how it is supposed to work in theory, at least.

At the beginning of this General Assembly, Wilder managed to convince enough Republicans to support him in order to remain Lieutenant Governor. The GOP majority in the Senate increased from two to three during the session, and is likely to increase further after November. There is mounting pressure for the Republicans in the Senate to unite and choose a Republican Lieutenant Governor, and it looks like that is exactly what they are going to do. So what is Wilder's reaction? Desperation. Apparently, Wilder has reduced himself to calling lobbying firms and leaving messages on answering machines.

"I need you. I know you are with me, but I need you. The Republicans are out to get me with every ounce of blood they've got."

Wilder went on to say: "The Senate needs to stay the Senate," and "I want you to help Wilder people." He then asked that the firm he was calling and its clients support Bob Rochelle (D-Lebanon), Lowe Finney (D-Jackson), Vince Springer (D-Spring Hill), and Duran Williams (D-Cosby) in their races against GOP opponents.

Kleinheider feels sorry for Wilder, and thinks Wilder may lose his will to live if he should lose the Speaker's chair. Clearly, I do not wish death on Speaker Wilder, but I do think that 35 years in the office may be enough, especially since Wilder will not likely lose his Senate seat. When someone thinks the Senate will not be the Senate when they are there presiding, it is time for them to be removed from the Chair.


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