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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

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Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Monday, February 09, 2009

Party Kicks House Speaker Out

Last November, the Republicans won their first majority, 50-49, in the Tennessee House of Representatives since 1869. The state GOP has a rule that the party chairman may expel from the party any legislator who fails to support the party's nominees for leadership positions. Last month, the Republican Kent Williams joined the 49 Democrats and voted for himself for speaker instead of the GOP nominee; he also voted for the Democratic nominee for speaker pro tem.

"State Republican Party Chairman Robin Smith [a woman] today ousted new Tennessee House Speaker Kent Williams from the party..."

"Williams said afterward that... he's likely to run for re-election to the House next year as an independent."

Speaker Williams also said that he still considers himself a "Carter County Republican." Unless the GOP changes its mind about his status, he would have to run in 2010 as either an independent or a Democrat.

Ballot Access News says that Williams is probably the first independent to head a state legislative body in the U. S. since before World War I.

The Republicans hold a 19-14 edge in the Tennessee Senate (note that that state has 33 senators and 99 representatives. Mississippi, with a considerably smaller population, has 52 senators and 122 representatives).

Of the 13 standing House committees, Williams named Republicans to chair seven and Democrats to chair six.

Tennessee, like Mississippi, is among the 21 states that do not register voters by party.

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