published Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Williams elected speaker in upset; Mumpower loses

Lois DeBerry reeected Speaker Pro Tem

NASHVILLE — In a surprising twist, House Democrats threw their support behind a Republican lawmaker for speaker and defeated attempts by House Republican Majority Leader Jason Mumpower, R-Bristol, to become speaker.

The 49 Democrats joined with GOP Rep. Kent Williams, R-Butler, in the vote for speaker, providing the razor-thin 50-49 margin to make Rep. Williams the state House’s first Republican speaker since 1971.

Frustrated by their inability to gain enough support for longtime House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, Democrats employed what they referred to as the “nuclear option” in throwing support behind another Republican candidate.

The new House Speaker helped Democrats re-elect Memphis Democrat Lois DeBerry as Speaker Pro Tem, the number two position in the chamber by a 50-49 vote.

Earlier, when Speaker Williams was elected, pandemonium and boos erupted from Republicans and their supporters.

GOP reaction was swift.

“Kent Williams has betrayed his constituents and the people of Carter County in breaking his pledge — his signed oath — to vote for the nominee of the Republican caucus for Speaker of the House,” said Robin Smith, chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party.

“He lied, in a quest for personal power, in league with Democrat Speaker Jimmy Naifeh and House Minority Leader Gary Odom, in their desire to retain power despite the results of the 2008 elections.”

Speaker Williams said he heard expletives being used by fellow Republicans. He said he still considers himself a Republican and emphasized that he would be fair to Republicans and Democrats. He predicted that history will show that this will be a “great thing” for the state.

When state Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, approached the new Speaker, Rep. Williams warned him that if he used “the f-word,” he would be thrown out.

Rep. McCormick responded by telling the new Speaker that he is a “disgrace to the state. You are a disgrace to the state.”

Rep. McCormick denied using foul language to the Speaker Williams earlier.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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rolando said...

As posted on an earlier thread:

So rotten politics and the lure of personal gain has hit our own Republican party. One of our own has thrown in with the soreheads. Somehow, in this day and age, that is too, too typical. [If they could somehow blame Bush for Naifeh's ouster as Speaker, they would.] as usual -- and, as usual now, the voters get the business.

January 13, 2009 at 3:22 p.m.
Rampette said...

That cute li'l nightly-comic-book readin' Jason Mumpower had it all planned out.

Bless his heart, BEFORE the session yesterday, Jason and his Republican buddies had already changed the State website to show him as Speaker:

This kinda reminds me of last summer when Jason Mumpower and other Republicans had a big plan to help defeat Kent Williams by running another Republican against ol' Kent in the Republican primary.

That plan didn't work out so well for Jason and the other Republicans, either.

And, I am sure Jason and the other Republicans planned for Kent Williams to just forgive and forget that they helped Kent's opponent last summer with campaignin', money, and radio attack ads blastin' Kent.

Yep, plans are a lot like comic book characters -- they look good on paper.

January 14, 2009 at 7:03 a.m.
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