Does Jimmy Naifeh Control the House Republican Caucus?The World recieved the news about an hour and a half ago that Steve McDaniel defeated Frank Niceley in the Tennessee House Republican Caucus vote for Speaker Pro Tempore. We will never know by how many votes McDaniel defeated Niceley, because the tallies are never made known. A couple of sources inside the Caucus told The World that there were several people who wanted to vote for Niceley, but were moved to cast their vote for McDaniel out of fear that McDaniel would bolt and cast his vote for Speaker for Jimmy Naifeh.
There is no way for someone outside the Caucus room to verify that without getting people who voted for that reason to fess up, but it certainly seems as though the fear of losing the Speaker's Chair played a role in the vote for Speaker Pro Tempore. If true, what message does that send about the nature of this new majority? Is it a majority whose Caucus votes for safety instead of voting their conscience, and did we not see enough of that under the old regime?
Sources inside the Caucus room informed The World that in their speeches just before the vote, Niceley reminded the Caucus that McDaniel voted for the income tax, voted for Jimmy Naifeh for Speaker of the House, and is prone generally to support tax hikes and fiscal mismanagement. McDaniel called on the Caucus to show "unity," and painted himself as the candidate of that unity. A rosy vision, to be sure, but has McDaniel demonstrated unity? He wouldn't stand with the Republican Party when voting for Speaker of the House, and he has been Jimmy Naifeh's lackey in the past. I would love to know how that is representative of Republican unity.
The Republicans have the majority, and had a chance today to show that they were interested in real change. One hopes that the new Leadership does well, and that McDaniel performs far better than many of us expect-I know that I hope and pray for that. However, this does not appear to be a very good beginning on the path to reform.
Let us hope and pray that Steve McDaniel proves me wrong.