house majority leader

The curious case of the Casada calls

Rep. Glen Casada. (Erik Schelzig/Tennessee Journal)

Former House Speaker Glen Casada says that contrary to what The Tennessee Journal has reported, the Franklin Republican is not supporting Rep. Andrew Farmer’s bid for House Majority Leader. He says he’s also not backing the current No. 2 Republican in the House, Rep. William Lamberth of Portland.

“Someone is bold face lying to you,” Casada said in a text message. “I am no in no way helping anyone in the upcoming caucus elections.”

The Journal had been inundated by claims that Casada is agitating behind the scenes on Farmer’s behalf. Exhibit A, the reasoning goes, is his business relationship with Farmer — they are partners in Red Door Title Services in Franklin. Not so, says Farmer, a Sevierville attorney who has other similar relationships with title businesses around the state. Farmer also says Casada told him he wouldn’t be supporting his leadership bid.

And yet the word spreading around the Capitol is that Casada may be looking to exact some revenge on Lamberth and then-Republican Caucus Chairman Cameron Sexton of Crossville) for abandoning him when his speakership collapsed last year. Sexton later won election to Casada’s old job in the chamber.

Casada — who has been speaker, majority leader, and caucus chairman (twice) — has much experience when it comes to Republican leadership fights. He’s not always successful (he lost his first bid for the speaker’s nomination and only lasted a couple months after finally winning the top job), but other ambitious colleagues ignore his machinations at their peril.

So is Casada really staying out of the leadership race? In the end, it will probably come down to what the wily lawmaker sees as presenting the best possible outcome for Glen Casada.

Farmer challenging Lamberth for majority leader

Reps. Andrew Farmer (R-Sevierville), right, and Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) speak before a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in Nashville on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State Rep. Andrew Farmer (R-Sevierville) is challenging Rep. William Lamberth (R-Portland) for the position of House majority leader this fall, according to a letter to colleagues obtained by the The Tennessee Journal.

Farmer and Lamberth were two of four Republican attorneys first elected to the House in 2012 (the other two were Rep. Mike Carter of Ooltewah and disgraced former Rep. Jeremy Durham of Franklin). Farmer won the District 17 seat following Republican Rep. Frank Niceley’s election to the state Senate, while Lamberth was elected the District 44 seat vacated by the retirement of Rep. Mike McDonald (D-Portland).

Lamberth won the chamber’s No. 2 leadership position in November 2018 in the same caucus election that saw Rep. Glen Casada (R-Franklin) nominated for what turned out to be a truncated speakership.

Here’s Farmer’s letter:

Dear Members,

As most of you know, I have been considering the opportunity to run for a caucus leadership position. Realizing the challenges of the upcoming session, I am ready to work with you to face those challenges to make a positive impact on our great state. After much prayer, deliberation and discussion with my wife and family, I have decided to announce my candidacy for House Majority Leader.

Our caucus benefits from a wide range of abilities, viewpoints and experiences among the members. As Majority Leader, I will work to help every member effectively represent their district. We all deserve to make a difference, and that is only accomplished when all of our voices are heard. We only reach our full potential when we recognize the wisdom of our constituents who put us here in the first place. After more than a decade as an attorney I have experienced the challenges that individuals, businesses, and families face. I have learned that listening and understanding their needs are always the first step in helping. By applying those same principles we can make the upcoming session both exciting and productive.

I appreciate the support that so many of you have already offered and I look forward to meeting individually with each one of you to discuss how we, together can reach new heights as a unified caucus. I am respectfully asking each of you for your support and vote.

Sincerely,

Andrew Farmer