Controversy in Tennessee Has Speaker Ousted by His Own Party

No matter how loathsome it often appears, even the harshest critic of the American political game must admit that it’s rarely boring. Case in point — a fine mess has erupted in the Tennessee legislature, with the new speaker being labelled as a turncoat by his own party for voting for himself:

The Tennessee Republican Party stripped House Speaker Kent Williams of his GOP affiliation on Monday as punishment for the Jan. 13 vote in which Williams joined all 49 House Democrats to elect himself as speaker (over Majority Leader Jason Mumpower) …

On Nov. 4, the GOP gained a razor-thin 50-49 majority, giving the party control over the entire General Assembly for the first time in 140 years. Smith acknowledged Monday that the party’s actions nudges the House into an exact split of 49 Republicans, 49 Democrats and Williams.

But the move may create still more uncertainties. Williams issued a defiant statement in which he appears to refuse to relinquish his GOP affiliation, saying "I remain a Carter County Republican with the same principles that brought me to the General Assembly in the 2006 elections."

Pretty wild. But don’t get too down on Tennessee. The state has had a lot going for it through the years, too (Beale Street, Sun Studio, Stax, Graceland, Opry, Smoky Mountains, Jerry Lawler — all great stuff). Definitely in my personal top five of America’s greatest states.

Check out the full story on the speaker ordeal in The Tennessean.

Hat tip to Ballot Box.