By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Members of the House Republican caucus on Monday unanimously nominated Speaker Beth Harwell for another term in charge of the chamber, but ousted Rep. Judd Matheny from the No. 2 slot.
Matheny, R-Tullahoma, was defeated by Rep. Curtis Johnson of Clarksville in a secret ballot.
Matheny announced in August that he was mulling a challenge to Harwell for speaker because he felt marginalized by other Republican leaders. He said they worked to dilute his key legislative initiatives ranging from loosening gun laws to battling what he perceived as the spread of Islamic law in the United States.
He later abandoned that bid in favor of another term in his current role, but by that point, Johnson had already begun to round up support for the position.
“We all need to pull together, we should all remember that our caucus tent is big enough to have different opinions,” Johnson said before the vote.
Andrea Zelinski has a rundown on the closed-door Republican Caucus meetings for election of legislative leadership positions. The most interesting of those races will happen Monday, Nov. 26, at the AT&T Building downtown, where members of the massive House Republican caucus are expected to cast their votes for the people they want to lead them through the next two years.
Only one of those races is contested, as of publication. It’s between a sitting leader who fell on the opposite side of party leadership on a handful of conservative, controversial bills and a quiet state rep who has largely worked behind the scenes.
The job is for speaker pro tempore, the official No. 2 ranking legislator in the chamber. Job responsibilities chiefly include manning the podium when the speaker is out of pocket. But more than that, the speaker pro tempore can vote in any standing committee, giving the electee power to cast the tie-breaking vote on just about any piece of legislation.
The post is now occupied by Rep. Judd Matheny, an auctioneer from Tullahoma who has a decade of experience on the Hill. He has been the speaker pro tempore for the past two years.
In his tenure, he performed few of those official duties. Matheny rarely manned the podium for Speaker Beth Harwell — who seldom let go of the gavel — and cast few tie-breaking votes in key committees.
It’s a job that leadership, both past and present, could have utilized better to free up Harwell, the chamber’s top Republican, said Rep. Glen Casada, a Franklin Republican expected to run unopposed for a different caucus position.
“She and the rest of us are kind of learning our way around. I would say the last two years, it’s because we’re still learning where all the gears and levers are, if you will,” said Casada, a conservative who ran an unsuccessful bid for speaker two years ago against the more moderate Harwell, the first GOP-backed speaker since Reconstruction.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Department of Education is launching a nationwide search to replace two testing officials.
Department spokeswoman Kelli Gauthier said Monday that the executive service appointments of Dan Long and Stan Curtis ended last week.
She said an interim director has been appointed “to ensure the ongoing success of the department’s work in data and assessments.”
Long headed the Assessment, Evaluation and Research Division, which administers the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, or TCAP, achievement tests, and Curtis served as assistant director.
The departures come less than a month after the state asked the federal government for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law, saying its revamped education standards should be appropriate for measuring schools.
Recent results show only about half of Tennessee’s schools have met the federal law’s standards. UPDATE: Department officials wouldn’t tell Andrea Zelinski why the two men departed, but did say what the reason was n’t. Or something like that. The state Department of Education says the resignation of two testing division officials is “completely separate” from a mistake the department made in downgrading two school districts four years ago.