Vance and Ashley Dennis chartered this bus for their supporters to ride to the State Capitol. The bus left Savannah at 6 a.m.
Before getting on the busArriving at the Legislative Plaza The first person we saw was Vance Dennis, who was already in Nashville.The House Republican Caucus provided breakfast for the legislators, staff, families and guestsDaddy and McNairy County Mayor Jai TempletonVance and Ashley with Jai and Allison TempletonMelissa and Congressman Zach Wamp, candidate for Governor of TennesseeVance's office doorThe empty House ChamberRep. Dennis at the door of the House ChamberThe members of the House of RepresentativesOur new State Senator, Dolores Gresham, was also getting sworn in.Senator Gresham's deskAshley, Walker and Vance Dennis in the galleryWalker at his daddy's desk Ashley and her mother Walker gives Rep. Jimmy Eldridge a high five. Rep. and Mrs. EldridgeWe found seats in the galleries around 9:00. Even though the session didn't begin until noon, the seats were already filled by 10:00. Some of our family sat on each side. The floor was buzzing with activity.Vance Dennis' desk Peggy Daniel and Cody Miller, fellow McNairy Countians who rode on the bus with usThe full gallery on the right side of the chamberThe gallery on the left sideSarahAnna and JonathanEveryone was really anxious for the session to start.The Representatives finally started to take their seats......and Speaker Jimmy Naifeh called the session to order.The Pledge of AllegianceThe Oath of OfficeFrom left to right, Rep. Stacey Campfield, Rep. Vance Dennis, Rep. Glen Casada, and Rep. Jason Mumpower Immediately following the oath, the Democrats called for a recess. The Republicans objected. Here Minority leader Gary Odom and Majority leader Jason Mumpower are arguing their points with Speaker Naifeh.Voting to table Odom's motion to recessUnfortunately, the Democrats got their recess, and we had to wait for 30 more minutes.The Republicans coming back from their caucus meetingRep. Sargent nominates Jason Mumpower for Speaker. Gary Odom shocks everyone by nominating moderate Republican Kent Williams for Speaker. We found out afterwards that the bargain had been in place since November, though only solidified the night before, and the 30-minute recess was so they could inform all of their members of the plot. The voteThe Democrats voted first, and all 49 voted for "Republican" Rep. Kent Williams. Then the Republicans voted. Jason Mumpower received the first 49 Republican votes, but the last Republican to vote, Kent Williams, broke his pledge and voted for himself, winning by 50-49 votes.
Kent Williams not only pledged to vote for the Republican nominees for Speaker and Speaker pro tem, he also promised several times, to several different people, that he would vote for Mumpower. He even caucused with Republicans up until the moment he betrayed them. His deceit and trickery were what angered everyone the most.
Here is Rep. Williams' response when asked why he violated his pledge - "No comment."
Sarah and Walker on the way home
Here are some video highlights of the session, compiled by Ben Cunningham.
News Channel 5 coverage
News 12 coverage: