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.”

Freshman Rep. Robin Smith (R-Hixon) is another potential candidate for speaker.

“I prefer the idea of a June session but understand the reality of vacations and other conflicts that may prevent better participation on shorter notice,” she said.

Meanwhile, Sam Stockard of the Daily Memphian spoke to Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis), who said he has spoken with various aspirants to urge them  to “sit down with each other … and come up with a consensus candidate or two or three.”

Rep. Jim Coley (R-Bartlett), who announced earlier this month that he won’t seek another term in the House next year, said he’d heard from several potential candidates. He said he told them he wants to heard “how they’re going to address a certain number of problems that occurred during (Casada’s) tenure” that he he considered “inappropriate.”

“I’ve voiced those concerns to everybody I’ve talked to that’s interested in running for Speaker,” Coley told the Daily Memphian. “I think we need somebody that’s fair and dispassionate. … Politics is going to be involved in some of the things, but policy needs to guide where we’re going.”


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