GOP consensus forms around McNally as Lt. Gov.

Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, has by all appearances lined up support to assure his electiontion as speaker of the Senate and lieutenant governor of Tennessee.

McNally took the Senate floor near the end of Thursday’s session to pay tribute to retiring Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and officially announce his candidacy for the office.

He said he had spoken with each of his colleagues who had also considered running — Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville, Speaker Pro Tem Bo Watson, R-Chattanooga, Sens. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville and Jack Johnson, R-Franklin — and afterward told reporters all had indicated they would back him.

…Norris said Monday that he was working to put together an agreement in which McNally would be the consensus candidate within the Republican Caucus to avoid a divisive distraction during this year’s elections. Watson had said last week he wouldn’t run for speaker if McNally did and would support him if he did.

Ramsey said later Thursday that he believes McNally will succeed him.

McNally, 72, is in the middle of a four-year Senate term and isn’t up for re-election this year, as half of his Senate colleagues are. He said last week when he told reporters he would run for speaker that he will likely run for another Senate term in 2018 but that would probably be his last.