Monday, November 13, 2006

If Williams sells out, Oatney jumps ship

Senator Mike Williams, who sold out in voting for John Wilder for Senate Speaker in the last legislative session is now unsure what he is going to do. Apparently, calls from his constituents haven't meant much in the past to Williams, so do they mean even less now?

Williams, whose 4th Senatorial District includes Hawkins and Hancock counties in Northeast Tennessee, acknowledged he's been getting a number of phone calls in recent days pressuring him to side with Ramsey.

So constituents have been calling Williams telling him they want him, a Republican, to vote for Senator Ron Ramsey, the Republican Leader in the Republican Majority Tennessee State Senate, for Speaker of the Senate. Is it just me or does that proposition make sense?

To be fair, Williams has a constitutional right to vote for whom he chooses, and doing so is his prerogative (a choice with political consequences he must be prepared to face). I will even go so far as to say that I wouldn't have as much of a problem with it if all Williams were doing was voting for the presiding officer of the Senate. If all he is doing is voting to let an 85-year old man who has been around the body forever have something to do by sitting in the Chair hollering "the Senate will be in order...order...order!," I wouldn't have near as much of a problem with it. Just voting to make the Ole Boy Speaker again is not all that Williams is doing, however. In Tennessee, the presiding officer of the Senate also serves as the Lieutenant Governor. Unlike many, I actually support this system and I believe it is constitutionally sound in the long run and should be maintained. It is a system that is designed to insure, at least in theory, that the majority party in the State Senate (the Upper House) gets to choose the State's second most powerful executive officer.

In Tennessee, the Lt. Governor has appointment power over all sorts of boards and committees
that may seem minor in nature to the average voter, but these bodies tend to be part of the grease in the wheels of State Government, and the same political party has had the ability to oversee those matters for years before many of us were even alive because they have appointed the Lt. Governor-Senate Republicans have a right to be angry about Williams' vote for Wilder the last time, and they were and still are.

To err is human and to forgive is divine, and I would be willing to forgive Williams for making the mistake of a vote for Wilder last time, but a second time is completely uncalled for. A vote for Wilder is not the only problem Williams may have on his record:

But Williams also indicated he's considering a switch to become the Senate's only independent member.

This was rumor just a couple of days ago, but with Williams' confirmation to the Kingsport Times-News that he is considering switching from Republican to independent, I can promise him that he will lose my vote. Mike Williams' constituents did not elect an independent, they knowingly elected a Republican. Upper East Tennessee is a part of our State that you might call "reflexive Republican," people will go into the voting booth and push the button for the candidate with the "R" next to his or her name because they are a Republican and that person's family may have been voting Republican for decades, even generations. Am I saying that is always right? No, but I am saying that Mike Williams' party label has likely been a serious boost to his vote total in this part of the world, and a great many of his constituents voted for him based on that factor alone. Because of that, it is a great disservice to them for him to abandon the Republican Party.

If Senator Mike Williams votes for John Wilder for Speaker a second time, and/or leaves the Republican Caucus, I will do everything in my small and meager power to defeat him. I will fully support Mike Faulk to replace him, and I will tell my friends and neighbors in this district to do the same.

(Hat Tip: Vance Cheek)



At Monday, November 13, 2006 12:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David I dont live there but I feel your pain. Why he wants to hitch his wagon to an 85 year old man is beyond me. Some say he will run for Lincolns old congressional seat in 2010. The voters in his GOP district should turn out the lights on that dream in two years!

At Tuesday, November 14, 2006 1:26:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

I question whether he will run for re-election to the State Senate if he supports Wilder.


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