mark cochran

House GOP re-elects top leadership team

House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) and Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) attend a floor session in Nashville on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

House Republicans have voted to retain their top leadership team of Speaker Cameron Sexton of Crossville, Majority Leader William Lamberth of Portland, Caucus Chair Jeremy Faison of Cosby, and Majority Whip Johnny Garrett of Goodlettsville. Pat Marsh of Shelbyville was renominated for speaker pr tem. All were unopposed.

Further down the ticket, Mark Cochran of Englewood was elected assistant majority leader. He succeeds Ron Gant of Rossville, who was seriously injured in a head-on crash of two SUVs last month. Cochran had announced his challenge before the wreck and some members had expected Gant to bow out of the race so he could focus on his recovery. But Gant, who did not attend the caucus meeting at Paris Landing State Park, decided to remain on the ballot.

Sexton was one of six candidate for speaker after Glen Casada (R-Franklin) resigned the post amid scandal in the summer of 2019. Faison was elected to succeed Sexton as caucus chair. Lamberth was first elected majority leader in 2017.

Here’s the release from House Republicans:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee House Republicans today selected Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, by unanimous vote to lead the House of Representatives for a third term.
The Republican House Caucus held its biennial organizational meeting to elect leadership positions following a historic election in which the House GOP gained two seats, securing a 75-24 supermajority. The caucus election was held at Paris Landing State Park in Paris, Tenn.

“I greatly appreciate the overwhelming support and the trust my colleagues have placed in me to continue serving as speaker,” said Sexton. “Tennessee leads because Republicans continue standing strong to preserve the freedoms, liberties, and conservative values that are important to the citizens of our state. Together, we will continue to effectively partner to prioritize solutions that build upon the General Assembly’s successes so Tennessee remains the best place to live, work, raise a family, and retire.”

Members voted unanimously to reelect for a third term State Rep. William Lamberth, R-Portland, as majority leader, State Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, as caucus chairman, and State Rep. Johnny Garrett, R-Goodlettsville, as majority whip. State Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, was unanimously chosen to serve his second term as Speaker Pro Tempore.

Mark Cochran, R-Englewood, was elected to his first term as Assistant Majority Leader.

“Tennessee voters spoke loud and clear this year when they overwhelmingly elected Republicans to represent them at every level,” Lamberth said. “I am so proud of all this caucus has accomplished. Together, with the leadership of Speaker Sexton, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and Gov. Bill Lee, we will continue to deliver on our promise to uphold common sense conservative values and seek the best possible quality of life for all Tennesseans.”

“Republicans in the legislature have been extremely successful over the last decade at building a stronger, safer, and more prosperous Tennessee,” Faison said. “The House Republican Caucus for the 113th General Assembly is made up of 75 talented, hardworking Tennesseans from every corner of this state who have a great desire to build on that tradition. I’m proud to have their support as we work to move Tennessee forward.”

Others elected to caucus leadership positions include State Rep. Paul Sherrell, R-Sparta as floor leader; State Rep. Scotty Campbell, R-Mountain City, as caucus vice chair; State Rep. Michelle Carringer, R-Knoxville as Secretary; State Rep. Rebecca Alexander, R-Jonesborough, as Treasurer.

Freshman State Rep. Jody Barrett, R-Dickson, was elected Assistant Floor Leader.

The 113th General Assembly is scheduled to convene on Jan. 10, 2023.

Pro-voucher group targets freshman Republican in online ads

A national pro-voucher group is going on the attack against at least one lawmaker who voted against Gov. Bill Lee’s signature “education savings account” legislation, the AP’s Jonathan Mattise and Kimberlee Kruesi report.

The American Federation for Children, which is once chaired by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has run online ads targeting freshman Rep. Mark Cochran (R-Englewood) as having “turned his back on President Trump” by voting against the bill.

An American Federation for Children ad targeting Rep. Mark Cochran.

Cochran was hardly alone in opposing the voucher measure. The roll call was 49-49 on the House floor in May, but then-Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) kept the voting board open for 40 minutes in an effort to get one member to flip to the ‘yes’ column.

Among the other Republican opponents of the bill: Newly-elected House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville).

A spokesman for the Tennessee chapter of the American Federation for Children refused to comment about the ad or whether other lawmakers might be targeted. The group spent about $6,400 in direct mailers supporting Cochran in last year’s election.

“This type of activity obviously doesn’t have an impact on me and is just part of politics,” Cochran said in a statement to the AP. “At this point, I’m looking ahead at our next session and am excited about the progress we’ll continue to make for Tennesseans.”

The Tennessee Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, was critical of the attack ads.

“They not only attack pro-public school legislators, they’ve sent positive mail into districts of pro-voucher legislators,” said Jim Wrye, the organization’s spokesman and lobbyist. “They hide vouchers as well as they can on the mailer. Yet as any Tennessee teacher knows, when you’re afraid to explain what you’ve done, you know it’s wrong.”