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New House Speaker supporters address Tennessee GOP


The uproar within the Tennessee Republican Party over Rep. Kent Williams winning the Tennessee House Speaker position continues unabated. Williams has been maligned by the state GOP leadership for not adhering to the Party agenda. Within his home district, Carter County, Williams enjoys strong support. Some of that support has written to the local media to express its sentiment on the issue.

From the Elizabethton Star:

“Republican Party Is Bigger Than One Person

Robin Smith, TN Repblcn Party Chairman

“Robin Smith, Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, has called a press conference Monday to announce her decision regarding House Speaker Kent Williams’s membership in the Republican Party. The decision rests solely with Smith, and perhaps nothing would delight her more than to kick the Carter County lawmaker out of the party.

Williams’ re-election last November helped give the Republicans a majority in the state House. Williams, who claims to be a Republican, who was elected as a Republican, and we do believe has Republican values, was elected Speaker with his vote and that of the 49 Democrats in the House. He defeated the GOP’s hand-picked candidate for Speaker, Jason Mumpower, who, too, voted for himself. He received all the Republican votes in the House except for Williams’.

Should the chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party have that much power? Power to decide who has membership in the party, who can be a Republican and who can not? Rep. Williams has said that he will leave the party voluntarily, Ms. Smith only has to ask.

This decision will be made by one person, who has never run for political office — someone who has a lot of experience campaigning for Republicans. Her goal in life is to elect Republicans at all levels of government to every office.

The Republican Party is bigger than any one person. It is bigger than Robin Smith and it is bigger than Kent Williams. No one person should ever have the say of who can and cannot be a member of any political party – be it Republican or Democrat.

Newly elected Speaker Kent Williams with his wife Gayle greet the press

The two-party system has served this country well. There is never going to be a time when everyone agrees on the same candidate. We all have different values, different views and different opinions on how government can best serve the people, and how people can best serve their government. To disagree is not wrong. Not every Republican agrees on every matter nor does every Democrat. Heaven help us if they do.

Furthermore, we do not think that Republicans in Memphis and Chattanooga, where Ms. Smith is from, should be meddling in Carter County politics. We may live in the mountains, but we aren’t ignorant. We are learned enough in politics to vote. We don’t need the bright out-spoken lawyer from Memphis nor the “blonde” saleswoman from Chattanooga to tell us how to vote, nor do we need them to select our candidates. My gosh, our ancestors were the first to settle in Tennessee. They formed the first independent government west of the Alleghenies. Long before there was a Tennessee or a Chattanooga or a Memphis, our folks were living here in the Watauga Settlement. They were busy building a community and forming a government. I don’t know if they were Republicans or Democrats, but it really doesn’t matter. They were daring, brave and they sure didn’t let the British tell them what to do.

Perhaps, Ms. Smith should know that when she kicks our representative out of the Republican Party, she has dealt a blow to every Williams voter in Carter County.

And, what’s more, the members of the Republican Party will have shot themselves in the foot — they no longer will have the majority in the Tennessee House. It keeps getting worse for Rep. Jason Mumpower. First, he was shot out of the saddle as House Speaker. Now, if Williams is kicked out of the Republican Party, he will become chairman of the minority party rather than the majority.

You know, the Baptist Church is more democratic than the Republicans. They do allow the membership to vote on who to let in the church and to dismiss from their ranks.”

An additional voice on the matter was found in the Jackson Sun, excerpted below:

NOTE: The editorial today in the Star, taken from the Jackson Sun, was a kinder-gentler shift in opinion. I suppose I should give kudos to the Star for offering very different views on one topic. This editorial is titled “Williams Was Foolish” and included these paragraphs:

“Tennessee Republicans had every right to banish House Speaker Kent Williams from their party. But the political get-back seems counter productive for a party with a one-vote, now no-vote, majority. At a time when Tennesseans are worried about their jobs and suffering along with the ailing economy, political bipartisanship is what people want to see. Instead, the state GOP chose to put hard-line conservative ideology first, and to its own detriment.

“Hard line, ideologically driven partisan politics can become destructive and self-defeating, regardless of which party is involved. Americans want more from their elected officials than mere party loyalty. They want to see things getting done. They want to see politicians coming together to put citizens ahead of partisanship. The state GOP didn’t help itself or Tennesseans by punishing the House speaker.”


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2 Responses to “New House Speaker supporters address Tennessee GOP”

  1. eyeontn Says:
    February 12th, 2009 at 11:55 am

    What a zoo:

  2. Blayne Clements Says:
    February 12th, 2009 at 12:44 pm
    Blayne Clements

    Thanks for this post Turner, it was very informative and insightful.

    Being a follower of state politics, I know staying current on information requires a lot of time reading blogs and articles in newspapers across teh state. Thanks for collecting the info and posting it.


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