senate speaker

Cade Cothren, Steve Gill, and the Tennessee Star take aim at McNally

Indicted former House chief of staff Cade Cothren, controversial political commentator Steve Gill, and the conservative Tennessee Star website are suggesting Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) should resign over Instagram comments directed at risqué photos posted by a 20-year-old Knoxville man.

McNally was lampooned in a Saturday Night Live skit this weekend:

McNally had called on then-House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) “to resign for less,” Gill said in a Facebook post. When a commenter said McNally should resign or be removed, Gill responded: “Correct.”

Cothren, who was indicted along with Casada on public corruption charges related obscuring their control of a political vendor called Phoenix Solutions, was forced out of his legislative job in 2019 following revelations of racist and sexist texts with his boss and for boasting about using cocaine in his legislative office. Casada later lost a no-confidence vote and stepped down as speaker.

Cothren this weekend posted a copy of McNally’s tweets surrounding the 2019 scandal.

“It is painfully obvious to anyone who has watched the confused public responses of 79-year-old Tennessee Lt. Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) to the controversy surrounding his inexplicable social media postings that he has lost a step mentally,” writes the Tennessee Star’s Michael Patrick Leahy in a post calling on the speaker’s resignation.

Gill was once a political writer for the Star before stepping away from the site after spending time in jail for failure to pay child support. He has appeared on Russian state television since the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The calls for McNally to step aside are only coming from the political fringe — at least so far. It remains to be seen whether any members of the Senate Republican caucus begin to make a play to replace McNally in the Senate’s top leadership position.

McNally nominated to another two-year term as Senate speaker

Senate Speaker Randy McNally and House Speaker Cameron Sexton await Gov. Bill Lee’s State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The Senate Republican Caucus has nominated Randy McNally to another term as speaker.

McNally, a retired Oak Ridge pharmacist, first succeeded former Speaker Ron Ramsey in 2017. Some at the time saw him as a transitional figure, but he has since consolidated his leadership position in the upper chamber.

McNally served four terms in the state House before his first election to the Senate in 1986. He is a former chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

The full Senate will officially vote on the speaker in January. But with Republicans holding a 27-6 advantage, it’s largely considered a formality.

Speakers seek delay of sports gambling in Tennessee amid questions about draft rules

Senate Speaker Randy McNally and House Speaker Cameron Sexton await Gov. Bill Lee’s arrival for his second State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Legislative leaders want the Tennessee Lottery to delay the approval of sports gambling rules. Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) and House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) wrote in a letter to Lottery Chair Susan Lanigan on Friday that some of the draft rules are outside the scope of the gaming law passed last year.

Here is the text of the letter:

Dear Ms. Lanigan,
We would respectfully request that the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation Board of Directors and the Sports Wagering Advisory Council delay voting on the rules to implement the “Tennessee Sports Gaming Act.”

There have been concerns brought to our attention that some of the rules, as drafted, may be outside the authority given to the Board or Council pursuant to the “Tennessee Sports Gaming Act.” For example, there is concern that the additional categories of licenses created within the rules aren’t within the scope or authority of the Board or Council under the “Tennessee Sports Gaming Act.” Specifically, the Sports Pool Intermediary License and the Vendor License, and associated fees, are not authorized in the Act.

Please feel free to contact our office with any questions you have regarding this letter,

Thank you for your consideration.

Lt. Governor Randy McNally, Speaker Cameron Sexton


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