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No one saw this coming!  

The Republicans -- who had just finally won control of the State House for the first time in 40+ years – were suppose to elect their Speaker of the House today.  And failed!

Anaxamander has the details in his/her diary. The Tennessee State House has 50 Republicans and 49 Democrats. Well, Rep. Kent Williams (R-TN) got the support of all 49 Democrats plus his own vote to put himself in the Speaker’s chair.

The TNGOP is freaking stunned and freaking out!  

Here’s what I’m hearing from Legislative Plaza...

In the last election, a bunch of belligerent right-wing radicals tried to bully Rep. Williams (a moderate) into taking far-right stands -- going so far as to threaten boycotts on his family business, etc.

Well, Rep. Williams had had enough of bullies and blowhards destroying the Republican Party from within. And the Democrats knew it. So the Democrats approached Rep. Williams about being the new House Speaker.

Rep. Williams said, "yes," and history was made, just minutes ago.

Rep. Gary Odom (D-Nashville), who grew up in Williams’s district in Carter County, nominated Williams, calling him, "A man who epitomizes putting principle over partisanship."

House Speaker Williams promises to select committee chairs based on ability and seniority -- mostly ability.  He promises that at least half will be Republicans.  But many will be Democrats.  That's something no one saw that as a remote possibility just a few hours ago -- except maybe the engineers of this shocking political twist.

A lobbyist at Legislative Plaza is calling it "absolute chaos" up there right now.

The GOP was promising all sorts of abortion votes, 2nd amendment votes, anti-immigrant votes, anti-gay votes, etc. - your basic nightmare right-wing nutjobs run amuck scenario.  Not so fast!!  Wow!!

Crossposted at Planet Rye

Originally posted to R o o k on Tue Jan 13, 2009 at 02:16 PM PST.

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