Today, the Tennesee General Assembly met today to choose their House speaker. The body consists of 99 representatives. The breakdown after recent elections: 50 Republicans, 49 Democrats.
The Speaker is an important position; he chooses, among other things, who heads what committees, etc.
Mumpower was eager for the job, and he had an agenda: bans on gay adoption and fostering, new concealed weapons laws, new constitutional limits on abortion, new anti-immigrant legislation, and mandating the teaching of “intelligent design” in public schools, among them.
Everyone knew Mumpower would become Speaker. The press knew it, the public knew it. It was a fait accompli.
So at today's assembly, the new members were sworn in. And the first order of business came up: choosing the next Speaker.
Then the comedy of errors started.
Mumpower called for an immediate vote on selection of the Speaker (i.e., him). The Democrats wanted a 30-minute recess. So, the assembly voted on whether to have the recess. All Republicans voted against the recess, except for freshman Republican State Rep. Terry Lynn Weaver of Lancaster. Terry Lynn, making her first vote ever in the assembly, purportedly hit the wrong button and cast her vote with the Democrats.
So the Democrats won, and a 30-minute recess was called for.
That was all they needed.
When they all came back, the Democrats had a plan. After Mumpower was nominated for Speaker, the Democrats nominated a moderate Republican for Speaker — a man by the name of Kent Williams.
And all the Democrats voted for Kent Williams, and (of course), Kent Williams voted for Kent Williams, making him Speaker by a vote of 50-49.
According to one report, "the official Republican nominee, Jason Mumpower, was left speechless, clutching the family bible that he had brought in preparation for taking the Speaker’s oath of office."
And that's how moderate Republican Kent Williams — not the fundamentalist wingnut — became Speaker of the Tennessee Assembly today. As Williams went to the podium to accept his selection as the new Speaker, he was greeted with a chorus of boos from Republicans.
Nice manuevering from some state Dems.