Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Victory Turns to Mourning

Yesterday we had the opportunity to go to Nashville for the swearing-in of our new State Representative, Vance Dennis. Since the Republicans have the majority in the House for the first time in years, we were also looking forward to seeing a Republican elected as Speaker of the House. All 50 Republican House members had pledged to vote for Rep. Jason Mumpower as Speaker, but Rep. Kent Williams broke his word and, along with the 49 Democrats, voted for himself. What was expected to have been a wonderful day for Tennessee Republicans turned out to be just the opposite.

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."

By this time we were all feeling pretty sick. Williams is sworn in amidst loud boos and shouts from the galleries. He voted with the Democrats on everything else.Leaving the Capitol Vance and AshleyAfter we were all on the bus Vance stopped by to thank everyone for their support.
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:


Anonymous said...

williams only pledged to vote for a republican for speaker. He did, himself. Politics is tricky, Mumpower wasnt ready to play the game

11 Smiths for Huckabee said...


While it is true that the pledge Williams signed did state that he would vote for "a Republican for Speaker" and did not specify which one, it also stated that he would vote for "a Republican Speaker Pro Tem", which he did not when he voted for DeBerry. You can view a copy of the signed pledge here:

Though Williams did not pledge in writing to vote for Mumpower, he had promised several people that he would do so.

Politics is not supposed to be about tricks and games. Politics should be honest men doing what is best for the people they are called to serve without regard for personal gain or glory.

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GeneaDiva said...

Great job explaining what actually happened in the Speaker race.


Jamison Faught said...

Wow! That's insane! Just proves yet again that there are bad legislators on both sides of the aisle; those kind of politicians do not deserve their office. We need more citizen legislators, more statesmen. That's a shame.

Here in Oklahoma, we had something similar; a Republican state senator switched parties after the election in 2006, putting the senate in a 24-24 split (effectively leaving the Democrats in power). Fortunately, we won her seat back, and an additional one, giving the Republicans control of the senate for the first time in history (and control of both bodies of the legislature for the first time, as well).