The Almost Speaker and the Maybe Pro TemOn Friday, I bemoaned the notion that there may be or have been some kind of backroom deal between certain Tennessee House Republican Leaders and Steve McDaniel, the perceived lackey for current Democratic House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh who is standing for Speaker Pro Tempore under the new Republican regime. The deal in question being that McDaniel "gets" the Speaker Pro Tempore position, a leadership role chosen by the Republican Caucus and ultimately by a procedural vote on the House floor. In return, McDaniel supports House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower for Speaker.
Mumpower has repeatedly denied that such a deal ever existed, despite rumors to the contrary. If Jason Mumpower were talking to me personally, he might say that rumors are often just that, and are a dime a dozen in the political world. Beneath every rumor there is a grain of truth, and if I may be permitted the luxury of speculation, I suspect the truth might be that perhaps Mumpower believed McDaniel would be the only candidate for Speaker Pro Tem-that no one else would stand, and simply said to McDaniel "hey, if you do become Speaker Pro Tem, bring the other boys along, won't you?"
Word came to me yesterday via Frank Niceley that Mumpower called him over the weekend. While Frank was careful not to devulge all of the details of their conversation, Mumpower apparently told Frank that he was pleased to see Frank run, and that he wished Frank well in the contest for Speaker Pro Tem. I think it is very good that Jason called Frank, because for awhile I was getting the impression that things were quite chilly-Frank had talked to everyone and their mother but Mumpower, and this is the kind of situation where the Leader ought to be the one to call the candidate. That formality was thankfully broached over the weekend, and the signal seems to be coming from the Speaker-designate that he is fully prepared to work with Speaker Pro Tempore Frank Niceley if the situation hopefully arises.
What other signal might Mumpower's call send? Perhaps Frank Niceley has a better chance to win than the press is giving him.