Category Archives: Ron Ramsey

Norris backs McNally as Senate speaker

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris today backed Senate Finance Chairman Randy McNally as successor to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey as Senate speaker… and Ramsey said he’s neutral, but McNally certainly is qualified.

From Nashville Post Politics:

“I want to stay out of this, I really do. I don’t get a vote, but Randy McNally has been here for 38 years and he won’t be here much longer. I’ve had several members talk to me about that and I can see why people might think Randy should be the one. But again, I don’t get a vote,” Ramsey told reporters.

…“I haven’t counted votes, I haven’t done that,” Ramsey said about support for McNally, a member with 38 years experience in the legislature who said he would want to serve a transitionary role for two years or so. “He seems to have some momentum now just talking to my fellow members, but I don’t know.

“There’s one thing I don’t want, and that’s a blood bath as soon as I leave. I don’t want that. Hopefully there could be some kind of consensus candidate out there,” Ramsey said.

Norris, who met with Ramsey moments before reporters, said he would support a McNally speakership, telling media he “made a lot of calls” in the last few days pitching him as a man with a “storied career and reputation here, is the dean of the Senate in terms of time here and steady at the helm.”

Note: Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, who has been mentioned as a prospective Ramsey successor along with Norris, previously announced support for McNally, post HERE.

More ramblings on Ramsey: cheers and jeers

Right-wing legacy
Excerpt from an Otis Sanford column in the Commercial Appeal:

Ramsey’s retirement announcement last week was followed by effusive bipartisan accolades for a guy who was the key to turning a legislature long dominated by Democrats into a Republican supermajority.

It’s no secret that Ramsey never had any love for Memphis, and the feeling was always mutual. Yet, Sen. Lee Harris of Memphis, the Senate minority leader and one of only five Democrats left in the upper chamber, called Ramsey “a true statesman and, really, a role model on authenticity in public life.”

High praise for sure, and politically expedient as well.

The truth is, Ramsey has been a powerful and effective leader for the causes in which he believes, from anti-abortion to pro-guns. To his credit, he opposed the effort to allow people to go armed in public even without a handgun-carry permit. But once the straight shooter from Blountville in upper East Tennessee brings down the gavel on his last session, he will leave a legislature that is arguably more conservative and less compromising than even he imagined.

It is also a legislature that often is out of control. That creates a challenge for Ramsey’s successor, particularly if it’s Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville.

For the moment, Norris is not talking about his interest in the job. But he has to be considered a leading candidate. The problem is, I don’t believe that Norris, deep down, is nearly as conservative as many of his legislative colleagues. Plus, he lives in Shelby County and, as far as I know, has not sworn a blood oath to hate Memphis.

That alone may disqualify him for the job. But that’s a topic for another day. Right now, it’s appropriate to pay homage to Speaker Ramsey, who more than anyone set the tone for right-wing conservative politics to thrive in Tennessee for years to come.
Continue reading

Ramsey moves to exempt Kingsport from de-annexation

One of the five cities still included in a controversial municipal de-annexation bill may get a reprieve courtesy of the Senate’s most powerful member, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey has filed an amendment that would remove Kingsport from the bill, which allows residents of areas annexed into five Tennessee towns and cities since 1998 to petition and then vote to de-annex their areas from their cities. Kingsport is in Ramsey’s Northeast Tennessee district. Another city nearby but not in his district — Johnson City — was amended out just before the bill passed the House of Representatives last Monday.
Continue reading

Sunday column: On Ramsey’s retirement

Tennessee’s lieutenant governors, who under our state constitution hold the position by virtue of being elected as speaker of the state Senate, have always been addressed simply as “governor” — certainly not “lieutenant” and generally not even “speaker” — except when formally presiding over Senate debate.

Ron Ramsey has not been as adamant about the label as his predecessor, the late John Wilder, but has embraced the inherent concept incorporated within the labeling — that the person holding that office is equal to the state’s chief executive in Tennessee’s power structure.

Ramsey, who announced his political retirement last week, did more to make that concept reality than anyone since the 1960s senatorial rebellion against the then-established tradition of letting the governor dictate who would be elected lieutenant governor.
Continue reading

McNally emerging as likely Ramsey successor?

Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, previously named as a prospective successor to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey as Senate speaker, tells Andrea Zelinski he would step aside in favor of Sen. Randy McNally, the legislature’s most senior member. And McNally is definitely running.

With a 38-year tenure in the legislature, McNally, 72, doesn’t face re-election until 2018. His longevity is a stat political insiders say could make his ascent to the Senate speakership a smooth transition following Ramsey’s expected departure next year.

“I know I’m not a Ron Ramsey. He’s a good friend. I probably see myself as more of a transition-type person. This will probably be the last thing I do in politics,” he told the Post. “I’m not going to be running for anything else. This is sort of the last hurrah.”

At max, McNally said he has one more term in him, “not a couple. Maybe one more.” His short tenure would pave the way for a replacement in a few years.

“Sen. McNally is our longest-serving member,” said Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, the Senate speaker pro tempore and another hopeful for the speaker’s gavel. “He’s played a multiple number of roles for our caucus, and in many ways, he’s earned what I would consider to be the right of first refusal.”

Watson is one of several expected contenders for the prestigious top job. Others include Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and Commerce and Insurance Committee Chairman Jack Johnson, R-Franklin.

…McNally’s election to Senate speaker would open up a powerful position on the Senate Finance Ways and Means Committee. Watson, first vice chair of the committee, could then slide over to the chairman’s position and potentially ready himself for a future run for speaker, sources say.

Asked about the strategy, Watson laughed. “I don’t know about a plan,” he said.

“In terms of what that would mean to everybody else, I don’t know. What I will say is, if Chairman McNally chooses to run for speaker, I would support that effort because he’s earned it. He’s earned that right,” said Watson.

…Ketron, a recent cancer survivor, said he’s also interested in the post. “Between now and December there will be a lot of — let the games begin, a lot of jockeying for position.”

He added: “I’ve had some encouragement, texts already today, so we’ll consider it… I’ve been through a journey these last few months. I know God got me through that for a purpose, so we’ll see what he has in store for me. I’ll let him lead me.”

Other potential candidates have declined to say whether they planned to contend for the speakership, saying it was too soon to begin talking about that prospect. However, none would rule it out.

Five prospective Ramsey successors quickly emerge

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.

From the Times-Free Press:

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.

AP story on Ramsey’s retirement (& hometown paper excerpt)

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, a leading figure in the Republican takeover of all three branches of Tennessee state government, announced Wednesday that he won’t run for re-election.

The Blountville auctioneer became the first Republican speaker of the Senate since Reconstruction in 2007. He said in an emotional speech from the well of the Senate chamber that he wants to spend more time with his family and young grandchildren.

“It has been the honor of my life to serve here. We have accomplished great things together. We have left Tennessee better than we found it,” Ramsey said. “But lately, it seems like life is flying by.”

“After a lot of prayer and many sleepless nights, I have determined that I simply cannot commit to another four years in office,” he said.

Ramsey has made a career out of bouncing back from political defeats.
Continue reading

Ramsey retirement reaction

Here are some press release statements from Tennessee politicians and organizations reacting to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s announcement that he will not seek another term in the state legislature:

Gov. Bill Haslam
“Lieutenant Governor Ramsey has been an outstanding leader for Tennessee, and I will truly miss working with him on a daily basis. Ron is smart and effective, and he has been passionate about serving Tennessee and his district. I appreciate his 24 years of service in the General Assembly, and I will miss him.”

House Speaker Beth Harwell
“I have served alongside Ron Ramsey for many years, and I have the utmost respect for him. He dedicated his time in public service to making Tennessee a great state. He often says that it matters who governs, and indeed it does—Tennessee has had a great leader in Ron Ramsey. I know he will enjoy being able to spend more time with Sindy and with his precious grandchildren. I wish him the very best.”

Senate Democratic Caucus leaders
News release from Senate Democratic Caucus
NASHVILLE – Senate Democratic Leaders released the following statements on the announcement by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey that he will not seek a new term to the state Senate:

“Ron Ramsey is a true statesman and, really, a role model on authenticity in public life,” Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris said. “He demonstrated that again today in how he announced his retirement. He set out a list of priorities and we would be lucky to be as smart, self-aware, authentic, and courageous enough to be able to do the same someday. We would all also be lucky to have even a portion of the blessings that Ramsey has had. He deserves a long-round of congratulations.”

“Ron Ramsey went from being a junior member of the minority party in the House to leader of a supermajority in the state Senate in his 20 years in the General Assembly,” Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Jeff Yarbro said. “That’s a testament to how strong a leader he has been. During my time in the legislature, we’ve had a strong and open relationship. Even when we’ve disagreed, we’ve done so as colleagues and as friends. And while it might surprise some folks to hear it, I’m going to miss him. Tyler and I wish him, Sindy, and his entire family all the best in the years to come.”
Continue reading

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey won’t seek reelection

News release from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey
NASHVILLE — Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) today announced his decision not to seek re-election to another four-year term in the state Senate this November. Lt. Governor Ramsey’s term as Speaker of the Senate will expire on the second Tuesday in January 2017.

Ramsey made the following remarks from the Senate floor regarding his decision this morning:
Continue reading

TN legislative leaders honor open records request

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — While Tennessee lawmakers do not fall under the state’s open records law, the General Assembly’s policy is to make what officials call a good faith effort to comply with requests from the public.

Under those rules, lawmakers are asked to search their own correspondence and emails for records they consider to be responsive to the request. That’s not good enough for one senior Democrat, who argues that it shouldn’t be up to each of the 132 lawmakers to decide which documents to release.

“To trust the members I don’t think is fully responsive,” said Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris. “The state owns these email accounts, and they should make sure they’re being fully responsive.”

A recent Associated Press request for a week’s worth of emails and daily schedules from legislative leaders in all 50 states was met with as many denials as approvals. In Tennessee, the top two Democrats and top two Republicans complied with the request.
Continue reading