Rep. Eddie Smith promoted by Republicans, bashed by Democrats

Georgiana Vines has sort of an update on the doings of state Rep. Eddie Smith, R-Knoxville, who has been appointed deputy Republican whip by House Republican Whip Jeremy Durham of Franklin while being criticized by Democratic party press releases.

The deputy whip position means Smith will help count and line up votes on GOP-sponsored legislation.

That might include some that Republican Gov. Bill Haslam opposes although Smith said he wants to work with both the governor and the GOP caucus.

…. Durham said in a release that Smith has become an “extremely valuable asset” to the caucus.

“This new role will help Eddie demonstrate his leadership qualities to a broader audience and allow him to play a key role in passing priority legislation,” he said.

Durham is sponsor of a bill to outlaw health care exchanges contingent on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in King v. Burwell. Such exchanges are allowed under the federal Affordable Health Care Act. Haslam, who opposes this bill, sought to have an Insure Tennessee health insurance plan approved in a special session last month but a Senate committee killed it. (Note: Durham adamantly opposed Insure Tennessee, too.)

…Smith said the health care issue is complex. He had a bill working that would have sought a block grant for Medicaid to cover more people under TennCare without additional money but he pulled it “off notice” because he didn’t think it would get the due diligence it should, Smith said.

Smith defeated Democrat Gloria Johnson in the November election in a race in which they took opposite sides on a number of issues, particularly in education. Democrats, including Johnson, a special education teacher in Knox County, criticized Smith on Tuesday for supporting a limited voucher bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville.

… “I believe in parent choice,” Smith said.

Note: See also post on voucher lobby spending on races involving members of the House committee that considers vouchers – notably including Smith’s contest.