house speaker

Dunn takes over as temporary House speaker

House Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) presents school voucher legislation on May 1, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

With Glen Casada’s resignation fro the House speakership Friday, Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) takes over until a special session to vote on a new speaker.

Here’s a release from the House Republican Caucus:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Representative Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) today in his role as Speaker Pro Tem will begin carrying out the duties of the House Speaker, including calling the August 23rd Extraordinary Session to order and presiding over the election of the next Speaker.

“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for the House of Representatives,” said Speaker Pro Tem Dunn. “I am eager to move forward so that we can continue to serve our communities and make Tennessee the best state to raise a family, work, and retire.”

Upon Speaker Pro Tem Dunn acceding to the speaker’s role, Republican Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) stated, “I have always admired Bill Dunn’s commitment to public service, and I know he will provide a steady hand in the Speaker’s office. I look forward to working with him during this upcoming special session as we transition to new leadership under Speaker Select Cameron Sexton.”

Speaker Dunn has served in the General Assembly since 1994. He is currently the longest-serving House Republican member.

Sexton retains Gilmer as chief of staff

Scott Gilmer

Cameron Sexton, the Republican nominee to succeed Glen Casada as House speaker next month, has named Scott Gilmer as his chief of staff.

Sexton (R-Crossville) said Gilmer represents his goals of “stability, policy, and consistency” as head of the chamber. Gilmer was former Speaker Beth Harwell’s chief of staff. He was also a top adviser to Casada.

Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republican Speaker Select Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) announced today that Scott Gilmer would serve as his Chief of Staff if he were to be elected Speaker of the House during the special session in August.

“My vision as Speaker of the House of Representative is stability, policy, and consistency, and Scott Gilmer exemplifies those three categories,” said Republican Speaker Select Sexton. “Scott’s experience and institutional knowledge will provide a steady hand and a smooth transition as we move forward and continue to build upon our successes.”

Scott Gilmer has served in the General Assembly for over ten years, seven of which has been in the Chief of Staff role for previous speakers.

Upon accepting the position, Gilmer stated, “I thank Speaker Select Sexton for this opportunity, and I look forward to continuing to serve the great people of Tennessee.”

Sexton prevails in House GOP caucus vote for speaker

Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) speaks to the House Republican Caucus after winning their nomination for speaker on July 24, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Rep. Cameron Sexton of Crossville has won the Republican nomination for House Speaker. He prevailed after four rounds of voting on Wednesday.

In the final round of balloting, Sexton won 41 of 70 votes over Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville). Matthew Hill of Jonesborough was eliminated in the third round and Mike Carter of Ooltewah and Ryan Williams of Cookeville were dropped after the second round. Jay Reedy of Erin failed to clear the first round of voting.

Sexton pledged not to rehire anyone who had left the employment of the House during the Rep. Glen Casada’s time as speaker. He added that others may not be retained going forward. Casada is scheduled to resign on Aug. 2.

Here’s how the voting played out:

Round 1 Round 2  Round 3 Round 4
Sexton  18 17 27 41
Johnson 16 19 23 29
Hill 16 16 20
Carter 11 9
Williams 8 9
Reedy 1

Sanderson to resign from state House

Rep. Bill Sanderson (R-Kenton) speaks with colleagues at a House GOP Caucus meeting in Nashville on July 24, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State Rep. Bill Sanderson is resigning from the General Assembly. The Kenton Republican said he wants to spend more time with his family and on his business.

His resignation will be effective at noon Wednesday, meaning he could still vote for speaker in the House Republican Caucus meeting to nominate a new speaker earlier in the day.

Sanderson, who owns White Squirrel Winery, said it’s become increasingly difficult to juggle his business and legislative responsibilities. He told The Tennessean he lost 135 peach trees this year while serving in Nashville.

“It requires a full time,” he said. “I’m going to have to be at home more.”

Sanderson said he’s been considering stepping down for two months, but decided on a date after the “whole Casada thing came about.”

His resignation now will allow a special election to take place to replace him, rather than having the county commission decide.

Sanderson rejected rumors circulating around the legislative office building that Casada might be trying to pressure him with compromising information.

“Hell no,” Sanderson told The Tennessean.

“If there’s anything up here on me, I’m unaware of it,” he said.

UPDATE: Writer Cari Wade Gervin reports Sanderson was active on the Grindr same-sex dating app. Sanderson says the messages were faked. Read the full account below:

Read Carter’s letter to House chairs, vice-chairs

Rep Mike Carter is sworn in to the 111th General Assembly in Nashville on Jan. 8, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Here is the full text of a letter Rep. Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) has written to the chairs and vice chairs in his pursuit of the House speakership:

Dear Chairman:

I am sending this letter to each Chairperson and Vice Chairperson to state in writing that you will retain your current positions if I am elected Speaker. Our 2020 election cycle including President Trump will motivate our opponents and we must be careful to do nothing to give an issue in your race.

We will restore integrity, trust and confidence in the House by promoting the excellent work that each of you perform in your roll as a House leader. Your interest and desires to serve in a given area will be given great weight towards any additional assignments that will be made. Additionally, we will revert back to the long established House rules that vests the power in the members, not the Speaker.

My request to serve you as Speaker is not about me, it’ s about you. I promise to use the Speaker’s office to promote each of you as the “Elected Official” in your district. This will begin with fair treatment to all and retribution to none. You will be asked to vote your conscience and your district not what others tell you to do for their benefit, not yours. Threats and intimidation will not be tolerated. Every member earned the trust and the vote of their district and represents approximately 67,000 people. Your obligations belong to those constituents not the Speaker. To that end I pledge to make myself available at your request for public meetings to promote your leadership and to raise essential funds for your re-election efforts.

I am forming a Speaker’s PAC to be professionally managed and maintained to raise funds for your re-­election efforts. I pledge that none of the funds raised to will go to me or my campaign. The Speaker’s PAC will support members and approved candidates only.

Stability is a key factor in reestablishing the rightful position of the House of Representatives in its powerful constitutional role. We will reinstate long held rules in the House that promote the House as a whole and not the Speaker. With budget savings and continuing with the theme “you are the leader of your district,” we will place flat screens outside each office so you may develop a slide show to promote your district, introduce yourself to observers and constituents, and state your accomplishments for your district. This is but one of many ideas to promote you and your district.

Lets start now and work tirelessly so that at your retirement your constituents will say that their community, district, and state of Tennessee was improved since you served as their state representative.

I hope to meet with each of you soon to gain your advice and answer any questions you may have.

Respectfully submitted,
/signed/
Mike Carter
District 29

 

House GOP to nominate new speaker July 24

Republican members vote during a House GOP caucus meeting in Nashville on Nov. 20, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Let the countdown begin. The House Republican Caucus plans to meet on July 24 to nominate a new speaker to succeed Rep. Glen Casada, who is stepping down following a loss-of-confidence vote.

(This post has been updated with the morning of July 24 being the scheduled date, not the afternoon of the 23rd, as earlier reported.)

The move comes as lawmakers await word from Gov. Bill Lee about the timing of a special session to hold a formal vote on replacing the speaker. The governor has said he plans to summon lawmakers back to Nashville in mid to late August, but had not settled on a specific date as of Tuesday, according to The Tennessean.

The declared Republican candidates for speaker so far include Reps. Mike Carter of Ooltewah, Cutis Johnson of Clarksville, Matthew Hill of Jonesborough, and Jay Reedy of Erin. House Republican Caucus Chairman Cameron Sexton of Crossville has recused himself from scheduling and logistics decisions surrounding the speaker vote because he is strongly considering a bid of his own. Others mulling bids include Reps. Jerry Sexton of Bean Station and Ryan Williams of Cookeville.

 

Rep. Jay Reedy announces bid for speaker

Rep. Jay Reedy is the latest candidate for succeed Glen Casada as House speaker. In a letter to colleagues, the Erin Republican speaks out against “self indulgence and moral corruption.”

“We turn our backs on our country and family when we come to Capitol Hill and forget why we are elected,” he writes.

Reedy joins Reps. Mike Carter of Ooltewah, Matthew Hill of Jonesborough, and Curtis Johnson of Clarksville as announced candidates for speaker. Others considering bids include Reps. Cameron Sexton of Crossville, Ryan Williams of Cookeville, and Jerry Sexton of Bean Station.

Reedy says he won’t make phone calls or harass member in the campaign for speaker. But he says he looks forward to discussing his bid with colleagues.

Here’s Reedy’s full letter:

Dear Colleagues,

The Eyes of Tennessee are upon us!

Things are forgotten from one generation to the next, which should not be.

It seems that we have forgotten God, Country, and Family. We hold to self-indulgence and moral corruption that goes against Gods Laws. We turn our backs on our country and family when we come to Capitol Hill and forget why we are elected.

The reason that I fought to be elected to HD 74 was to continue my service to God and Country, as I had as an enlisted U.S. Army Soldier and later as a U.S. Army Reserve Officer.

Respect and responsibility require much trust! The trust that we share in the Honorable Tennessee House of Representatives is a must, among the members, for the future of ALL Tennesseans.

Seven Basic Values that I was taught in the Army:

Loyalty – Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit and other soldiers.

Duty – Fulfill your obligations.

Respect – Treat people as they should be treated.

Selfless Service – Put the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your subordinates before your own.

Honor – Live up to all the Army values.

Integrity – Do what’s right, legally and morally.

Personal Courage – Face fear, danger, or adversity (physical or moral).

(I have, will, and will take these values to my end.)

I have the ambition, drive, tenacity, self-confidence, and psychological openness, to continue to be the leader for God, Country, and Family!

The future of all Tennesseans matter!

After much prayers, thoughts, and conversations, I feel obligated to run for the upcoming open- position of Speaker of the House for the remainder of the 111th General Assembly.

I would be honored to have your vote of confidence to serve as your next speaker!

Respectfully,

Jay Reedy

PS: I will not be making phone calls and harassing you for your vote. I look forward in speaking/meeting with you to discuss the future goals of the House of Representatives.

Several House Republicans want earlier Casada exit

Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) speaks to reporters in the House chamber in Nashville on April 17, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Several House Republicans are calling for embattled House Speaker Glen Casada to step aside sooner than his planned Aug. 2 exit date.

“I definitely think he needs to go sooner. He can resign. We have a speaker pro tem who can step in until we could have an election at whatever time is appropriate,” Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain) told Andy Sher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) is the speaker pro tem.

“I definitely think (Casada) doesn’t have the confidence of the legislature, that’s clear,” Hazlewood added. “I think he doesn’t have the confidence of the governor and other people across the state.”

Rep. Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) said he’s worried about extending Casada’s power to make key appointments to boards and commissions, including the panel tasked with overseeing the state’s new online sports gaming law.

“If he’d given me some reason, that might have helped me to try and understand it,” said Carter, a candidate to succeed Casada. “But now with all these appointments and things coming, I’m just concerned about it. The bleeding continues.”

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Casada to step down as speaker Aug. 2, requests successor vote be held same day

House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin), right, meets with colleagues on the Senate floor on May 1, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

House Speaker Glen Casada plans to step down as House speaker on Aug 2. He is asking Gov. Bill Lee to call a  special session to elect a new leader of the chamber that same day.

Casada began holding talks about the timetable for his resignation following his return from a European vacation on Monday. The House Republican Caucus had voted 45-24 last month to approve a resolution declaring lost confidence in the speaker over a text message scandal and his heavy-handed leadership style.

Here’s the text of Casada’s letter to colleagues on Tuesday:

June 4th, 2019

House Members of the 111th General Assembly:

I resign from my position as Speaker of the House of Representatives, effective Friday, August 2nd at 8:00 am. I also request that Governor Bill Lee call the General Assembly into a special session for legislative business on that day. During the special session, the House may take up the procedural matter of electing a new Speaker to lead the chamber.

/signed/

Glen Casada

State Representative, District 63

State Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini criticized the delay in Casada’s planned resignation:

Every day that Glen Casada is in office is a slap in the face to to women, communities of color, and all Tennesseans who expect real work and not lines of coke to be done at the state capitol. Democrats have been sounding the alarm since Casada’s corruption began, and we’ll continue to fight to restore accountability and decency to the Tennessee legislature.

Freshman Smith sees ‘opportunity’ to succeed Casada

Freshman Rep. Robin Smith (R-Hixson) attends a House floor session in Nashville on April 23, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Freshman Rep. Robin Smith (R-Hixson) sees an “opportunity” to succeed House Speaker Glen Casada, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

Casada (R-Franklin) announced plans to resign following a 45-24 vote by the House Republican Caucus to approve a resolution declaring lost confidence in the speaker over a text message scandal and his heavy-handed leadership style. Smith had argued against the resolution during the closed-door caucus meeting.

Smith cited her strong relationship with her 19 fellow freshman in the 73-member caucus.

“We’re the ones bringing ethics reform to the table when others have not,” Smith told the paper. “I think there’s an opportunity for us to stick together as a class. But I’m not going to make that presumption, I’m not going to speak on their behalf.”

“I’m not going to take anyone’s vote for granted regardless of their tenure,” she said.

Smith is a former state Republican Party chairwoman, who took a hard line in stripping former Speaker Kent Williams of Elizabethton of his ability to seek re-election as a Republican because he had been elected to lead the chamber by Democrats.

Smith worked as a campaign consultant for the House GOP during the 2018 campaign cycle, earning $37,000 for her efforts. She lost out her effort to land the same role in 2016 to Chip Saltsman, another former state GOP chairman, who is now supporting Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) for speaker.

Saltsman also managed U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann’s successful GOP primary campaign against Smith in 2010.

Reps. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) and Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) are the only formally declared candidates so far, but several others are actively seeking support for bids.