Friday, November 19, 2010

We Move the House Do Now Adjourn

The true test of unified rule-early adjournment:

Tennessee is supposed to have a part-time Legislature, the primary constitutional responsibility of such is to pass a budget. Everything that is over, above, and beyond the passage of a budget is just that-over, above, and beyond. In some cases it is over our heads, above the clouds, and often beyond reality. It should be the goal of the next General Assembly to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities quickly, quietly, and with little fanfare-and then to adjourn and go home. The best way to insure that government is limited, as many in the Republican leadership in Nashville say they want, is to limit the time the General Assembly is in session.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010


Beth Harwell now must unite the House Republican Caucus:

NASHVILLE-The votes have been tallied in today's meeting of the Tennessee House Republican Caucus, and the legislative arm of the GOP has chosen Beth Harwell as the Republican nominee for Speaker. Based on the sheer numbers of Republicans in the House, it seems a near certainty that Harwell will go on to be officially elected Speaker of the House on Tuesday, January 11th, 2011. The real challenge for House Republicans now is to move on from an unexpectedly divisive campaign for the Speakership and unite to act as the governing majority.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Careful How You Say It

Outside supporters of Tennessee House Speaker candidates need to be careful how they approach tomorrow's vote:

The House Republican Caucus, it should be remembered, is not a government entity, but is the legislative arm of the Republican Party in the Tennessee House of Representatives. You must be a member of the House to be a member of the Caucus, and you must profess to be a Republican. The caucus, however, determines what constitutes a Republican for the purpose of its agenda in the House and its members determine who can and can't be a part of it. This is clearly evident in the reality that while the State Republican Party says Kent Williams can't run as a Republican or identify officially as one, the House Republican Caucus officially says that Williams is a member and for their purposes, is a Republican. Since the caucus is an arm of a political party, it may nominate candidates from among its membership for relevant legislative offices. Once those nominations are made, then the vote in January is a public matter.

Since this writer is a Republican Party officer in Jefferson County, one of the things that I've learned in dealing with party matters is that undue outside influence on internal party proceedings is very much frowned upon. The same is true, from what I understand from friends on the other side, in the party opposite. It isn't that the opinions of fellow Republicans or friends of the conservative cause are not valued-quite the contrary-but too much outside influence on an internal party vote brings the divisions in the party to bear for the public to see. Oftentimes, the opposition will look for ways to take advantage of your differences. As a member of the GOP Executive Committee in my county, I've learned to leave my differences with other members at the door and not to take disagreements personally, because we may need to help each other during election season and we're fighting for the same ends. If House Republican Caucus members think that one or two outside groups are trying to unduly influence an internal vote, it could potentially backfire on the groups who would like a certain outcome, because some members may just say "I was leaning one way, but I didn't appreciate the way group X was trying to sway the race or be too involved with member X-I think I'll vote for member Y instead."

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Monday, November 15, 2010


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.

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