Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mayhem in the Tennessee legislature

Wicked cool.
The mood in the hall of the General Assembly Tuesday morning oozed with anxious anticipation.

Republicans stood poised to take control of the Tennessee General Assembly for the first time in nearly 140 years. Even Gubernatorial candidate Zach Wamp roamed the halls. "What I say to all my new colleages here in the state house and state senate is with this new majority, is you cant just be the opposition party now because the burden is on you to govern."
What happened next some may describe as the political play of the decade as all 49 Democrats backed Kent Williams, a Sophomore Republican from Carter County, a district just miles from Mumpower's hometown.

During the voice vote on the Speaker's position, the House clerk called every Democrat first, then every Republican, except Williams. The 49 to 49 split was then decided by Williams.

Williams accepted the position amid cheers and boos, prompting state troopers to enter the House chambers ready to respond to an outburst.
(via Atrios)

The same thing happened in 1995 when the GOP took over the California Assembly. In a maneuver orchestrated by outgoing speaker Willie Brown (D), Dorris Allen (R) became speaker thanks to all the Democratic votes plus hers. She then got recalled by a group of angry conservatives in Orange County. Tennessee doesn't have the recall, but Williams should still watch his back.

1 comment:

Joel Raupe said...

Same thing happened in the House in the North Carolina General Assembly after the unique redistricting "Stephenson" lawsuit, and the GOP won control of the House by a single vote. (Only the second time since Reconstruction, when Southern Democrats took the House from the Whigs in 1868, the GOP control the NC House from 1995-1999) - As it turned out, the out-going Speaker Jim Black literally bribed Rep. Michael Decker to switch parties and, with a faction of "moderate" GOP members in tow, voted in an extra-legal co-Speakership with Rep. Richard Morgan. Richard Morgan was defeated in an ugly primary in 2004, and both ex-Speaker Black and Decker are not in federal prison, with the Democrats in firm control 68-52.