The Chain ReactionThe on-again, off again candidacy of Governor Phil Bredesen for federal Health and Human Services Secretary just may be moving toward the "on" button again:
Q: Are you out of the mix for HHS secretary?
A: I don’t think so…but I don’t know…They certainly told me I was on a
fairly short list of people being considered. I refer all further questions to
them. I’m just really not sure where the process is.
Although the continued procrastination on the part of the Obama Administration in appointing a Health Secretary would certainly lead one to believe that with each minute that passes, a Bredesen appointment becomes much less likely, it does bear noting the chain of political events in Tennessee that will likely occur if Phil Bredesen does take a post in the President's cabinet. Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey-already the State's most powerful Republican-will become Governor. Ramsey's ascension to the Mansion in which (unlike his predecessor) it can be hoped he will actually live will eliminate concerns about his name recognition leading into the 2010 election cycle. Sitting Governors don't have as much of a problem with folks in other parts of the State not knowing who they are.
If a Bredesen departure makes a Governor out of Ron Ramsey, it will set off an instant race within the Senate for his replacement at Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the Senate. The question will likely be decided de facto within the Senate Republican Caucus between Speaker Pro Tempore Jamie Woodson of Knoxville and Senate Republican Floor Leader Mark Norris of Collierville. A Governor Ramsey would be the first Republican Governor to also have a Republican Lieutenant. However, once Ron Ramsey becomes Governor, another post would need to be filled-Ramsey's own seat in the Tennessee Senate.
The obvious choice would be current House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower, Ramsey's self-described protege. Both men are not only friends, but represent one another in their respective legislative bodies. However, if Ramsey becomes Governor, Mumpower will become the most powerful man in the House of Representatives by fiat, effectively circumventing the Democrats' political manuver of January 13th. With a Republican Governor and a Republican Senate, Jason Mumpower will carry all of the major bills that a Ramsey administration and the Senate would require. The House will have its hand forced along by the Senate and the Governor, and neither Kent Williams nor Gary Odom will run the House, but Jason Mumpower will.
If Mumpower will not take Ron Ramsey's vacant Senate seat, the only remaining question would be who would replace Ron Ramsey in the Senate in the event that he should become Governor.