Speculation has begun on who will succeed the retiring Ron Ramsey as speaker of the state Senate and lieutenant governor, a position filled by a vote among state senators after the November election.
One lobbyist said it could become a “bloody” fight as would-be successors vie for the post and various GOP factions and possibly even regional loyalties come into play.
Among those whose names are being bandied about are Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, R-Hixson, a close and trusted friend of the speaker, whom Ramsey appointed to the post.
Also mentioned are Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collerville; Senate Commerce Chairman Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, and Finance Chairman Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge.
Asked whether he would run, Watson demurred, saying Ramsey is “still speaker. He’s still speaker until we adjourn.”
Norris told reporters, “I want to make sure there’s a smooth transition and a continuation of strong leadership. I’m thinking about it, sure, but Ron Ramsey is the lieutenant governor and speaker until he’s not.”
McNally, like Watson, said he preferred to talk about Ramsey and not a potential bid to replace him. But some Republicans are quietly talking up McNally as a potential candidate who might serve as a transitional figure and serve one two-year term as speaker.
The Tennessean adds one name to the above list — Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro — and has “bio box” profiles of the five men HERE.