Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Act Like a Party Leader

In today's column, I point out that if Tennessee House Speaker Kent Williams really wants to be reinstated as a Republican and be seen as a leader in the House GOP Caucus, he has to begin to do things the way a leader would do them:

When you are Speaker of the House and you are attempting to claim the status of a party leader, you don't fail to "check their credentials" when you make critical political and judicial appointments. Williams' famous Democratic predecessors in the Speaker's chair, Jimmy Naifeh and Ned Ray McWherter, certainly checked to see whether their political appointees were Democrats.

So far, there are no signs of party political leadership in that vein on the Speaker's part.

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At Thursday, September 10, 2009 9:47:00 AM, Anonymous Mike said...

Reading your Examiner post, I feel compelled to point out some discrepencies.

Rule 7 of the Tennessee House of Representatives provides regarding the Speaker's appointments for committee officers: "In appointing committee officers, the Speaker shall consider the abilities, preferences and seniority of members and the political party representation in the House." Tennessee's most recent preceding GOP speaker, Bill Jenkins, followed this rule and ,like Kent Williams, appointed both Republican and Democrat committee chairs. This rule was traditionally followed until Speaker Ned McWherter's tenure and picked up by his successors Ed Murray and Jimmy Naifeh.

So, following your logic here, Kent Williams fails to be a good Republican by not ignoring the House Rules like Democrats did. Moreover, your argument is contrary to an earlier post pointing out the shared power committee model was generally successful. The recent squandering of the Republican majority in Congress has been widely attributed to a general failure by Republican leadership in Washington to show any degree of seperation from the previous decades of Democrat shennanigans. If we are to strengthen our Republican majority in Tennessee, we cannot afford to make the same mistakes.

Second, Kent Williams' commitment to help strengthen the GOP majority in the General Assembly has already been "backed up" by his actions. Recently, he made a substantial financial contribution to Republican nominee Pat Marsh's campaign, and has been working actively behind the scenes to assure Brian Kelsey's house seat remains a Republican seat.

Repeatedly, Speaker Williams has pointed to 2010 as the most important election year to Tennessee Republicans in decades. To imply that his focus on open seats in preference to challenging Democrat incumbents falls short is misplaced. It has long been the posture of the GOP caucus in elections to do just that. Challenging incumbents has always been the responsibility of the State party.

Personally, the Kurita case, as well as the Williams matter is troubling to the extent either political party would interject themselves into fair and open elections or votes on the floor in any legislative action.

I understand the lingering dissappointment by some that their candidate was not elected, but at some point you must draw the line between the rights of local party to promote and elect the candidate of their choosing, rather than one that is acceptable to the party central committee.


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