Williams and the CaucusAfter Tennessee Republican Chairman Robin Smith declared that Kent Williams was not a bona fide Republican, Williams one saving grace was that he was able to caucus with House Republicans, and that is ultimately a decision that is up to Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada and Republican Leader Jason Mumpower.
I had said in this space that the House Republican Caucus needed to make a decision about Williams' status one way or the other, because it sends a message that is inconsistent if the party organization removes Williams but the party caucus does not, and in matters of governing, the decision of the caucus, not the State Party Chairman, should be the deciding factor on Williams public partisan fate.
Jason Mumpower decided that the unity of his caucus was more important than maintaining a majority:
Mumpower said he and House Republican Chairman Glen Casada are poised to ban Williams from the caucus without a vote. "If even one member" of the House Republican Caucus opposes Williams' attendance, Williams should stay away, Mumpower said.
"If it causes dissent within the caucus, then it's best if he did not attend - and there are more than a few members who are discontent with him attending," said Mumpower.
There is a legitimate concern that Mumpower and Casada (and those members of the House Republican Caucus) have made a martyr of Williams in the eyes of his constituents by booting him from the caucus. Further, it would not be the least bit of a stretch to say that Williams has, through his committee appointments, placed Republicans and conservatives in the best position they have ever found themselves in in the Tennessee House. As a result, I am quite sure that there are a few members who do not care if he caucuses with the Republicans.
The problem with Williams being allowed to caucus with the GOP is that he has already proven on January 13th that he is willing to lie and decieve in a very public way in order to get what he wants, and he did so on that day in order to insure that he became Speaker of the House, election results and parliamentary custom be damned. Since then, he has kept his word about this even-Steven committee arrangment that he seems to like, and he has even appointed known opponents from within the Republican Caucus to chair committees and subcommittees. It will take more than a few good committee appointments to rebuild a trust that has been so sullied, however.
What is to prevent Kent Williams from taking inside baseball from the caucus chamber and spreading that information freely among the Democrats who put him into power to begin with? He has already shown he can be two-faced, so if even one member objects to his presence, his past history is the biggest reason why. Once a trust is broken, it takes longer than a few weeks to rebuild that confidence.