The Path to 50The great speculation over who will be the next Speaker of the Tennessee House got slightly thinner this morning after Beth Harwell took her name out of contention:
Harwell, a Nashville Republican who co-chaired John McCain’s campaign in
Tennessee, said Minority Leader Jason Mumpower has the support to become
speaker, and that she would not challenge him, saying that “I think we need to
have peace within our caucus.”
Call me crazy, but this might be taken as an indication that the Republicans have 50 votes for Speaker. Only if that wasn't the case would Harwell's challenge be viable, because she would likely present herself as an alternative to Mumpower to try and bring home the Naifeh voters.
I heard from Capitol sources on Thursday evening that Jason Mumpower had cobbled together a deal to become Speaker. I believe that this is very likely the case, but knowing the kind of underhanded political games that Jimmy Naifeh likes to play, I won't feel safe that there is a Republican in the Speaker's Chair until the roll is called on January 13th.
One rumor that is circulating is that if he is defeated for the Speakership, Jimmy Naifeh will simply retire by resigning his seat in the House. One legislator I spoke with said "it isn't in Naifeh's nature to be content with not running things. He won't know what to do if he isn't Speaker."
It will be extremely interesing to see how all of this unfolds.