The Roller Coaster LegislatureStacey Campfield has published word that Kent Williams may soon be removed from the Tennessee Republican Party. If true, there is some debate, even among conservatives, as to the wisdom of the move. Some have said that it is better to keep him in the party until the next election, that this will isolate him politically. For my own part, I have come to the conclusion that Williams must be removed for no other reason than that it shows those members of the House Republican Caucus who might be tempted to vote for Democrats for Speaker or Speaker Pro Tempore of the House of Representatives that there will be political consequences in a negative way for their actions.
One thing that many on all sides are coming to see that the events of January 13th at the State Capitol created a caustic climate in the General Assembly in which it will be very difficult to do business. Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey has said that at least he had a good working relationship with Jimmy Naifeh, that he has no trust for Kent Williams.
Among members of the House, many Republicans feel that their efforts to gain a majority have been nullified by an organizational vote. Kent Williams was untruthful with Republican leaders, none of whom now believe that he will ever be completely straight with them. Democrats cannot really trust Williams, as he has already demonstrated that he will lie to them as well-he had said he would vote Democratic for constitutional offices. Further, many Democrats doubtless know that if Williams would deceive his own party, he wound have no qualms about stabbing the Democrats in the back as well.
There is very little trust and much suspicion among all parties in the 106th Tennessee General Assembly. Hence, there is likely to be little in the way of a middle ground in how this session will progress. This is entirely speculative on my part, but I believe we will either see an incredibly short session, where legislators scurry to pass a bare-bones budget and then go home, or a very long one marked by heavy scrutiny of nearly every bill and delays in the normal progress of daily business on the Hill. As one legislator told me "I've cleared my calendar until the 4th of July."
The First Session of the 106th General Assembly will very likely be something of a political roller coaster ride.