Tuesday, January 13, 2009

OMG We Just Won The Tennessee House!

The Republicans had a 50-49 majority in the Tennessee State House. They were about to elect a Speaker. And then...
Acting in a clandestine pact, the 49 Democrats in Tennessee’s House shocked Nashville just one hour ago by nominating and then voting en masse for Kent Williams (a moderate Republican from Elizabethton in Carter County) for Speaker to lead the 99-member chamber. The official Republican nominee, Jason Mumpower (a wingnut from Bristol in Sullivan County) was left speechless, clutching the family bible that he had brought in preparation for taking the Speaker’s oath of office.

This is HUGE! The R’s had promised 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. Because the Tennessee House operates under a strict committee system and the Speaker appoints all committee chairs, though, it is unclear whether Republicans will be able to get any of these measures to the floor of the House. In addition, the re-election prospects for the long-serving and widely-respected Comptroller and Treasurer (both Democrats) is now much more promising; the General Assembly votes for these constitutional offices tomorrow.

The ingenuity of the Dems is (very occassionally) something to savor. And full credit is due to the new Speaker Kent Williams, who candidly acknowledged in his address that he would likely be kicked out of the Republican party and lose his next election. But perhaps the loveliest part of the drama should be attributed to the recently-elected Republican state representative Terry Lynn Weaver of Lancaster, who accidentally voted with Democrats on a procedural matter and, owing to confusion about the issue, was unable to change her vote in time — which set the whole process in motion.

I love the detail about the guy clutching the Bible. Hot damn!

1 comment:

low-tech cyclist said...

Mumpower was a student of mine, about 15 years back. Not one of the high-achieving ones, either. But he was a wingnut ideologue as a college student, and doesn't seem to have changed a bit.

His bios, both at Wikipedia and on the TN House website, don't mention a spouse. He's 35 years old; wonder if he's another GOP closet case. Or maybe he's just so fixated on the wingnut ideological wars that most of the babes are scared off by either that or his 17,000 comic books.

In a way, though, I think it might've worked out better if Mumpower had won. Then the kid would have actually had to be responsible for stuff.

Then Tennessee could learn locally what the rest of us have learned nationally: that the wingnuts have no solutions to anything.

Their all-purpose panacea - cutting taxes - doesn't work when you're in a big recession, the budget's nowhere near balanced, and the state constitution requires a balanced budget.

And under the circumstances, hammering on God, guns, and gays (which seems to have been a big part of Mumpower's game plan) would look like a circus act, even to Tennesseeans.

Given the times, if Mumpower had won, Tennesseans might have gotten this insanity out of their system in two years. The way things stack up now, the good guys pulled off a sweet win yesterday, but Mumpower will probably get his Speakership in two years.