The mood in the hall of the General Assembly Tuesday morning oozed with anxious anticipation.(via Atrios)
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.
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.