Matheny out, Johnson in as House GOP elects speaker pro tempore

Monday, November 26, 2012 at 5:41pm

The newly minted House Republican supermajority replaced its second in command Monday, months after the representative threatened to challenge House Speaker Beth Harwell for her leadership post.

The caucus voted via secret ballot to replaced Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny — a Republican who said he felt “sidelined” by GOP leadership. Republicans replaced him with Rep. Curtis Johnson, a Clarksville businessman who has largely stayed behind the scenes.

“We should all remember that our caucus tent is big enough to have different opinions,” Johnson said to members at the House Republican Caucus organization meeting to elect leadership. “We can have constructive criticism, but we all need to work together to move our caucus forward.”

In asking voters to reelect him, Matheny pointed to ways he wants to make the job a “frontline working position and not just a lazy backwater like it used to be years ago,” he told members before the vote. Better coordination with the Senate over legislation while maintaining the chamber’s autonomy are key areas the position should focus on, he said.

In August, Matheny considered running against Harwell for the gavel. Matheny, who differed with leadership on some controversial legislation like allowing gun owners to stow guns in vehicles parked on work property, had said he felt sidelined by leadership and was underutilized. Weeks later, Matheny backed off plans to run for the post and instead seek reelection.

Republicans now make up 70 seats of the state House, giving the party a supermajority, which allows the caucus to set rules and pass legislation without the help of the 28 Democrats and one Republican-leaning Independent in the chamber.

Harwell, of Nashville, was reelected to House speaker unanimously on a voice vote, as was House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga. Members also elected Rep. Glen Casada as the caucus chairman, a post he held prior to losing the speaker’s slot to Harwell in 2010. He replaces Rep. Debra Maggart who lost her bid for reelection in the August primary.

“It is clear this Republican Megamajority is ready to move with common sense, conservative initiatives and I’m ready to lead them,” said Casada in an emailed statement.

Republicans elected their peers to the following additional leadership positions: Dennis Powers as caucus vice-chairman; Kevin Brooks as assistant Republican leader; Cameron Sexton as Republican whip; Vance Dennis as Republican floor leader, David Alexander as caucus secretary; Joshua Evans as caucus treasurer and Jeremy Durham as assistant floor leader.

Six Republicans elected to the Fiscal Review Committee include Reps. Jeremy Faison, Matthew Hill, Pat Marsh, Mark Pody, Mark White and Tim Wirgau. Rep. Curry Todd, who long held a spot on the committee, lost his attempt at reelection. He was one of three absent from Monday’s caucus meeting, citing an upcoming surgery. Also absent were Reps. Joshua Evans and Rep. Dennis Roach.

House Democrats intend to elect their caucus leadership next month.

5 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 11/26/12 at 6:48

You have to walk the straight GOP line or you are out. Enought said!

By: govskeptic on 11/27/12 at 8:45

It would appear the Business Community has reached another leadership office
within the House that might have opposed something they were supporting.
It appears the new Super Majority in the Republican House will be lead by the
same exterior forces that ran the Democratic Party when they had the majority.

Voters and supporters of either Party are just pawns to move around on the decks
and are of semi-concern on election years. Admittedly Matheny didn't do much in
the way of leadership in his former position, making a replacement necessary.

By: ncpreader on 11/27/12 at 10:37

Matheny stepped out of line and was put aside. Republicans will need to be united in order to govern and this was a message to rogue ultra-conservatives. If there is too much in-fighting, Republicans will fail.Can't have that. On another note, Compromise is not a dirty word. It is the grownup, responsible thing to do. Republicans have thrown out so many good legislators across our nation for simply being willing to take political risks and move our country forward. Now with a supermajority in TN, Republicans need to take a look within and bounce the Neanderthal Tea Baggers and their paralyzing social agenda out of the General Assembly so we can get our business done and show we can govern for the long haul.

By: Specter47 on 11/27/12 at 12:13

Hey there pswindle... Since you're not straight OR Republican, what would you know about the GOP line? Just askin'.

By: rickmuz on 11/29/12 at 9:37

As "PSwindle Said!! Get in line and follow the voices in the distance... pay no attention to that man behind the curtain... Follow the rest of the sheep in line... Your "shower" is to kill lice