With Speaker Glen Casada finally agreeing to exit the speakership stage left (do us all a favor and keep going off the stage entirely, Glen!)…
…House Republicans are starting to jockey for position to be his replacement.
Rep. Hawk, who is not running, says it has already gotten ugly.
Rep. David Hawk, who is not running for speaker, emails his colleagues that they are acting like “a group of siblings fighting over their dead parents’ estate before the bodies have even been buried.” #tnleg pic.twitter.com/cihvhHsqTR
— Natalie Allison (@natalie_allison) May 22, 2019
The Tennessean has a list of 9 people who may throw their hats in the ring, so we figured we’d give our own Holler-iffic take on who these people are and why you should or should not be rooting for them to become the 3rd most powerful person in Tennessee.
“BORING” BILL DUNN
Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) will preside over the House until a new speaker is chosen, and would like to fill the position permanently.
“I think I can bring a level of boredom to the position,” Dunn told the Tennessean.
He also said he’s “far right but fair” in a TV interview this week.
Dunn played a key part in passing Governor Lee’s public school-harming vouchers bill, but while some seem to be swayed by political favors – which the FBI may be looking into – even Dunn’s opponents seem to agree he’s a true believer on that front.
Of the 9 speaker candidates, Dunn was the only one who didn’t vote in favor of the “Heartbeat Bill”, which would outlaw abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected and force a woman/girl to carry her rapist’s child to term.
Dunn also switched and became a supporter of London Lamar’s bill to give pregnant Hope Scholarship recipients longer leave before going back to school after giving birth.
Also – very importantly – Dunn has already said he believes the women who have been fighting to get Rep. Byrd – who has apologized on tape to 1 of 3 women who say he molested them in high school – removed from office, and says there should be an investigation into the matter.
NEW: Channel 5’s Report on Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn Meeting With and BELIEVING the Women of @stopbyrd @GlenCasada lied about meeting with them and promoted Rep. Byrd, who apologized ON TAPE to 1 of 3 women who say he molested them in high school.pic.twitter.com/3Hu2OYfr4E
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) May 23, 2019
It’s a shame that it took Casada’s downfall for Dunn to step up and say that, but better late than never. All candidates for speaker should be willing to say and do at least that much.
WILLIAM “COMPUTER GLITCH” LAMBERTH
Casada’s Right Hand Man, Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) has been a Casada loyalist throughout the Casada saga, even jumping into the middle of the situation surrounding the date discrepancy and possible framing of civil rights activist Justin Jones.
Lamberth was quick to adopt Casada’s “computer glitch” excuse, and had no hesitation about defending the now-shamed speaker.
Should be easy to prove then, no?
Lamberth also won’t say using the N Word is a fireable offense.
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) May 3, 2019
Lamberth has been a defender of private prisons (without ever acknowledging that they donate to his campaigns), opposes de-criminalizing medical marijuana, and has been a loyal vote for all of Casada’s priorities throughout the session, including the “Heartbeat Bill”, Lee’s vouchers, the anti-LGBT slate of hate, the voter registration criminalization bill and more.
ROBIN “THE VIDEOTAPER” SMITH
Often found videotaping those who videotape her, the freshman Smith (R-Hixson) is well connected, having previously been chair of the Tennessee Republican Party.
Smith is a staunch Casada loyalist through and through. When the House Caucus voted overwhelmingly that it had “no confidence” in Speaker Casada after his complicity with racism, sexism, drug use at the office, lying, possible fraud, misuse of taxpayer funds, etc… there were still 25 votes in favor of Casada.
1 was Casada himself. We currently know who 4 of the others are, and that group includes Smith.
Smith has been a Casada apologist right up until the end, even trying to lay down a smoke screen to help him blame it on the a-a-a-alcohol. It takes some nerve to offer up ethics bills when you won’t even vote against a guy who has no ethics whatsoever.
She even tried to steer the conversation to Democrats, telling a Chattanooga paper “My hope was we would have censured him and that we would have challenged our other partisans in the [Democratic] caucus to censure members that also engage in unbecoming behavior.”
Smith has been loyal on all the key votes, engaged in anti-Muslim saber-rattling, and Obama-bashing.
A warning about Smith From Vanity Fair, back when Smith ran for Congress (and lost):
Smith was the head of the Tennessee Republican Party during the ’08 presidential campaign and approved the distribution of some of the most underhanded and insidious anti-Obama propaganda to appear during the election. You may recall, for example, the video that the Tennessee G.O.P. released hammering Michelle Obama for her comment about being “proud of her country for the “first time” in “her adult lifetime.” (The ad prompted Barack to tell critics to “lay off” his wife.) You may also remember the Tennessee G.O.P. press release titled “Anti-Semites for Obama” that pointedly referred to the candidate as “Barack Hussein Obama.” Both smears drew national condemnation, even from Republican Party leaders. But one gets the feeling that if the Party gave into its true impulses and elected Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh its leader tomorrow, there’s a good chance Robin Smith would be at the top of their list for chief strategist… How did Smith respond when, following her announcement, a reporter brought up the heat she took for the smear tactics? She called the question “unprofessional” and railed against the “liberal media.” Were she to be elected, Smith would likely be among the most conservative members in Congress. Her Facebook and Twitter pages overflow with right-wing rhetoric. In one Facebook status update, for instance, she tells “Judeo-Christians” to “wake up” and oppose President Obama’s attempts to reach out to the Muslim world.
MATTHEW “ETHICS COMMITTEE” HILL
Speaking of Ethics, Matthew Hill is the chair of the ethics committee, which means he played a big part in trying to orchestrate the rigging of an *advisory opinion* that would have attempted to help clear Speaker Casada.
That effort was stopped in its tracks, and prompted Rep. Mike Carter, a judge, to call it the “most egregious act I have been made aware of” and call for Casada’s resignation from the House entirely.
Needless to say, it takes a special kind of person to help rig an ethics committee opinion from the chair position.
Hill is another House Republican who has defended Casada up until the end. Hill claims he voted against Casada when it came time for the “no-confidence” vote, but since the vote was silent and we’ll never know, color us skeptical.
Rep. Jeremy Faison put it best when he said there were 45 votes against Casada, but suddenly after the fact there were 68.
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) May 22, 2019
While we’re on the subject of ethics, Hill was also recently seen on the House floor claiming the Tennessee State Employees Association supported Lee’s school vouchers, when they did not.
Rep. Matthew Hill is speaking out against things other reps have said.
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) May 1, 2019
He has yet to apologize for offering that false information.
If that’s not enough, Hill has the support of Rep. Micah “Heartbeat Bill” Van Huss, which should send a chill down everyone’s spine and be enough to make you very afraid of Hill all by itself.
— Kimberlee Kruesi (@kkruesi) May 22, 2019
Funny how moral these reps who defended Casada to the end all suddenly became once they realized they were on the wrong side of history.
“JUDGE” MIKE CARTER
Rep. Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) is a judge who held off on speaking out against Casada until he had all the facts…
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) May 13, 2019
…then pulled no punches once he realized Casada was trying to rig the ethics committee to try to get away with everything. Carter then went hard at Casada, saying his concern was “it shows a heart for misrepresentation” and calling it the “most egregious act” yet.
Once Carter turned, he opened the door for others to speak out and likely played a big part in why the “no-confidence” vote went the way it did.
Carter was a loyal vote on vouchers, the heartbeat bill, the slate of hate, gun permit-weakening, the voter registration criminalization bill, etc.
From the Tennessean, regarding his bid for Speaker:
Carter vowed to keep all committee chairs in their position, form a political action committee, review all policies, procedures and rules and never intimidate members.
JERRY “WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES” SEXTON
Pretty much all you need to know about Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) – a former Baptist preacher – is summed up in this clip right here, where he defends Rep. David Byrd’s presence as chair of an education subcommittee by saying “we all make mistakes”:
NEW VIDEO: “We all make mistakes.”
– Rep. Jerry Sexton on Rep. David Byrd, who apologized on tape for sexually molesting high school girls he coached.
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) February 27, 2019
It’s worth noting though that Sexton didn’t extend such leeway to Casada, leading the effort to call on the GOP caucus to meet and vote on their support of him, and introducing the resolution stating the caucus no longer had confidence in him.
Erik Schelzig reported that Sexton argued for the state muzzleloader to be the Knight Muzzleloader because:
“I’m from Bean Station, and Bean Station was settled by the first white settlers in Tennessee, and had the first white baby born in the state of Tennessee. They were also makers of firearms and muzzleloaders. And this company is owned by descendants of the Bean family.”
SCHELZIG: First of all, having the first white baby born in the state, unless we’re a pile of open racists, isn’t an accomplishment. Second, unless we’re kicking French people out of whiteness, it’s not true. Martin Chartier lived here in Nashville up on the burial mound that used to exist just south of Jefferson Street in what would later be called “the old Shawnee trading post” in 1690. His son, Peter, was born here that year.”
Nothing good going on there. Sexton also made a stand against the 2017 Improve Act which provided funds for road improvements – obviously a socialist plot!
Sexton has been a loyal vote on vouchers, the heartbeat bill, the slate of hate, gun permit-weakening, the voter registration criminalization bill, etc.
RYAN “LET’S ARM TEACHERS” WILLIAMS
Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) carried the bill that would’ve armed Tennessee’s teachers, before eventually withdrawing it.
You can watch some of the discussion here:
From the Tennessean:
The former House Republican Caucus chairman said Wednesday he and his wife were praying about his options and a potential bid for speaker.
“Now more than ever we as a caucus need to unify around someone,” said Williams, R-Cookeville.
Williams has been a loyal vote on vouchers, the heartbeat bill, the slate of hate, gun permit-weakening, the voter registration criminalization bill, etc.
CAMERON “EVERYTHING IS SOCIALISM” SEXTON
In fairness that nickname above could apply to pretty much every TN GOP house member. We gave it to Sexton because of this diatribe about medicaid expansion being socialism posted on the TN GOP twitter account recently.
Here’s new Speaker candidate Cameron “everything is socialism” Sexton (@CSexton25) telling us medicaid expansion and those $1.4 Billion we lose every year wouldn’t actually help rural hospitals. https://t.co/47HCpRrDOD
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) May 22, 2019
Sexton once unbelievably said “no one has died because they didn’t have access to health care” on the house floor — a claim disputed by medical experts.
Sexton doesn’t seem to realize Ronald Reagan expanded Medicaid 4 times, and like the rest of his caucus refuses to acknowledge that accepting the billions we’re rejecting each year would obviously help health care access and struggling rural hospitals in Tennessee.
From the Tennessean:
As the House Republican Caucus chairman, Sexton, R-Crossville, has avoided wading too deep into the Casada controversy, instead seeing his role as a referee for the GOP lawmakers to discuss the matter… Sexton confirmed Tuesday that several members of the caucus have encouraged him to considering running for speaker… “I’m mulling it,” he said. “But out of respect for the office, there’s been no (resignation) date given, it’s a little early to start trying to run for office or leadership position that’s no available yet.”
While Sexton has been a loyal vote on most things, it’s worth noting that he’s the only one in this group to vote against Bill Lee’s public school-harming vouchers.
CURTIS “NOT GLORIA” JOHNSON
We gave Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) that nickname because we don’t know much about him, and haven’t really heard from him this session. But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe what this legislature needs right now is someone who is low profile and stays out of the limelight.
Johnson was up against Casada in the caucus speaker’s race this past fall.
From the Tennessean:
At the November caucus vote where Casada was nominated, Johnson told his colleagues he would not be a speaker who would bring division and scandal.
“If you’re looking for a speaker who’s going to use this position as a stepping stone to the next position, I’m not the one,” Johnson said at the time.
Maybe they should’ve listened to him.