Skip to comments.Tennessee Republicans have first majority in both chambers since 1869
Posted on 11/06/2008 10:56:22 AM PST by SmithL
Tennessee Republicans served notice Wednesday that the legislature is under new management, all but promising to replace the three state constitutional officers and challenging Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen to open talks on state budget issues.
Although Republicans won a one-vote majority in the state Senate two years ago, they built it to a 19-14 margin Tuesday and, unexpectedly, won a 50-49 majority in the House, which Democrats held 53-46 until Election Day.
Legislative historian Eddie Weeks confirmed it's the first time the GOP has held a majority of both chambers since 1869, during Reconstruction after the Civil War.
Both parties will spend the coming weeks settling their internal leadership issues before the General Assembly convenes in January, but the impact of the election will be felt across the state.
The GOP and its grass-roots activists across the state have chaffed over decades of Democratic maneuvering that blocked such issues as an anti-abortion state constitutional amendment from reaching the House floor for action.
But the change also means more local issues, such as the push by Shelby County suburban residents to turn the county school system into a special school district, will likely get more of a hearing.
That bill, which would block annexation of county schools by Memphis and try to resolve funding issues between the two districts, has been killed in recent years in a House subcommittee dominated by Memphis Democrats.
Another result: The election commissions in all 95 counties will flip from 3-2 Democratic majorities to 3-2 Republican ones. Under state law approved in the mid-1970s, the party with the most legislators appoints the majority of all five-member county election commissions and the State Election Commission.
"We are ready to lead," said House GOP Leader Jason Mumpower of Bristol after gleeful House Republicans took to the steps of War Memorial Plaza near State Capitol.
He said his party will push ahead with a largely mechanical "Education First" proposal they advanced this year to fund education before anything else in the state budget.
Bredesen said later he believes that would be a Washington-style mistake, mirroring Congress' passage of several funding resolutions every year.
"It doesn't allow for any balancing. You put all the priorities on the table," he said.
But the governor extended an olive branch to the new GOP majority, saying he has made a career out of working across the aisle.
"Sure it's a different dynamic, but we're still going to get things done. Education ought not be a partisan issue. In my mind, 'education first' means fully funding" the K-12 school funding reforms approved in 2007, he said. Plans for a second substantial funding increase fell victim to a state budget shortfall this year.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville said Bredesen will have to deal with the new majority on the budget but "it's about governing, not gloating. I'd like to suggest that he pick up the phone and give us a call" for input on the state budget.
Late Wednesday, House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, the Covington Democrat who has presided over the lower chamber since 1991, hinted that he may try to win the vote of a Republican representative or two to retain the speakership as Rep. Henry Fincher, D-Cookeville, suggested earlier in the day.
"House Democrats created Tennessee's Hope lottery scholarship, cut taxes on food and, year after year, balanced Tennessee's state budget. House Democrats led the charge in improving long-term care for seniors. House Democrats will continue to lead the way, and I intend to lead. And I look forward to the challenge," said Naifeh.
Looks the bitterness left over from Mr Lincoln’s war between the states is now officially over in the Volunteer State ... ;)
Yeah, a bright light in our elections her in Oklahoma is that Republicans will control the Senate for the first time in our STATE history! This state has WAY more registered Democrats than Republicans...the democrat party has left them.
Good news. Please don’t mess with the Tennessee whiskey.
Sweet! My job took me here from kalifornia, but I’m so glad to be in one of the only states to elect a new republican senator in 2006 (Bob Corker), along with saying NO to the marxist messiah and now a republican state house. Our governor is pretty much a DINO, so not much harm there.
I am optimistic.
The south is in good shape. If Barry O tries to overreach, the Red states won’t put up with it.
I never thought I would live to see this. The sweetest part of this is just know that, Jimmy Naifeh, the thug Democrat who has led the House for a couple of decades, will now get kicked out of his cushy office and is relegated to being just another lowly House member. And one that will certainly get less than a warm reception from the Republicans he has s**t on for so many years.
This is the thug who thinks of himself as a mafia boss. This is the man who called out the TN guard to surround the state house while he tried to force through an income tax, holding the vote open for two hours while he threatened and cajoled House members.
Thankfully, the income tax didn’t pass and time has shown it was completely unnecessary, despite the apocalyptic rhetoric warning what would happen if it didn’t pass.
Naifeh has now been thoroughly repudiated.
Anyone in Tennessee pushing for “Vermont Carry”?
We’d settle for ‘restaurant carry.’
And he’s on the way out, after squandering a multi million dollar budget surplus on his unchecked universal pre-k and tenncare programs.
Massive relocation heading for Tennessee ....
Seriously, Naifeh kept the voting open for two hours so he could strong-arm members into voting for the income tax bill?!
My God, what a power-crazed as**ole he must be!
I really hope the Republicans give him a dose of his own medicine in the upcoming session.