Now that the Republicans are Tennessee's majority party, the GOP must act the way a majority party acts
That has all changed in the space of a single election. In the 107th General Assembly, it is the Democrats who will have only 35 seats and-with a couple of notable exceptions-are now a largely backbench urban rump. The Black Caucus, once the mighty right arm of the Democratic Speaker, won't have the votes to appropriate coffee and doughnuts in the coming session. As my friend Frank Cagle has rightly pointed out, this is not a situation the Republicans are used to
, and that goes for Republicans both in and out of the General Assembly in our State. While our party has traditionally been one of top-down control until recently, Republicans-especially those from East Tennessee-are not people who march in lockstep, so party leadership elections need to be conducted with great care. Constituents absolutely have the right to voice to their members a prefence on leadership positions for the offices of the House (this writer has done so in the past and certainly will do so in the future), but members should be under no obligation to publicly reveal their votes in a caucus election for any leadership position until after the caucus vote is taken. Why? Because in their newly-fragile state, the Democrats will look for any advantage they can, and open division in the House Republican Caucus is a recipe for disaster. If you want the conservative agenda to move forward, you can't add arsenic to the winning potion.
Glen Casada would make a great Speaker of the House, but there is no reason at all to believe that Beth Harwell wouldn't be a great Speaker as well, especially with a 64 seat majority caucus that can have their way regardless. If she does win the caucus nomination, the idea that somehow the General Assembly will cease to be conservative is a bit ludicrous. The Republican Caucus can, and likely will pass whatever it pleases regardless of who has the gavel.
Labels: Conservatism, Republican Party, Tennessee politics