TN Senate, House nominate candidates for leadership roles

Both new and familiar faces will be taking on leadership roles in Tennessee’s upcoming 111th General Assembly when it convenes on Jan. 8, 2019.

Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, was nominated by his party to serve as the lieutenant governor and speaker of the Senate. McNally has served in the role since 2017 and represents State Senate District 5.

Rep. Glen Casada, R-Franklin, won the Republican nomination for House speaker, receiving 47 votes from the 73-member Republican caucus.

The entire General Assembly will vote whether or not to confirm the nominations for lieutenant governor and speaker of the house when they convene in January.

Casada has previously served as the House Majority Leader since 2017 and will take over the speaker position from Beth Harwell, who stepped down for a gubernatorial bid.

Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, was selected as the new Senate majority leader, beating out Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville. Johnson has represented Senate District 23 since 2006.
The Senate Majority Leader seat has been vacant since November 2018 when former leader Mark Norris resigned his Senate District 32 seat after being nominated to serve as a federal judge for West Tennessee.

Norris has served as majority leader for the senate since 2007. Gov. Bill Haslam has called for a special primary election for Norris’ District 32 seat on Jan. 24 with the election to be held on March 12.

Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, was nominated to serve as speaker pro tempore and Republican caucus treasurer. Haile was elected in 2010 to represent Senate District 19, serving until 2011 and then was re-elected again in 2013.

Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston, was elected as the Republican caucus chairman, taking over the role from Sen. Bill Ketron, who stepped down from his senate role for a successful bid to become Rutherford County Mayor. Yager has represented Senate District 12 since 2006.

Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, was elected Republican caucus secretary, taking over the role from Sen. Becky Massey, R-Knoxville, who had thrown her hat in the ring for caucus chair. Gresham has represented Senate District 26 since 2008.

A special election date still has not been set to find the replacement for Mark Green, who was recently elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in Marsha Blackburn’s former seat. Green tendered his resignation for the Senate District 22 seat effective Jan. 3, after which point the Montgomery County Commission will appoint a senator to serve until a special election can be held.

The Montgomery County, Houston County, and Stewart County election commissions plan to work together to find a special election date that will suite all three areas.
In addition to nominating Casada as a new speaker, House Republicans nominated a new majority leader, speaker pro tem, and minority leader as well as a new speaker of the Republican caucus.

Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, was nominated as the House speaker pro tem. The position was previously held by Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, who had served as the speaker pro tempore since 2013. Johnson left the spot to run for the House speaker seat.

Dunn has represented the House’s 16th District since 1994 and served as House minority leader.

Rep. William Lamberth, R-Cottontown, was nominated to take over Casada’s former role as majority leader. Lamberth was first elected to represent the House’s 44th District in 2012. Rep. Ron Gant, R-Rossville, was elected assistant leader.

Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, was nominated as House Republican caucus chair. Sexton served as House majority whip in 2012 and was first elected to represent the House’s District 25 in 2010.

Sexton will take over the role from Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, who was first elected to represent House District 42 in 2011. Rep. Brandon Ogles, R-Franklin, was elected caucus vice chairman.

Rep. Rick Tillis, R-Lewisburg, was elected as the Republican House whip while Rep. Paul Sherrell, R-Sparta, was elected as Republican House floor leader. Rep. Chris Todd, R-Humboldt, will serve as assistant floor leader.



Democrats also elected new leadership in both the Senate and House.

Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, will serve as the new Senate minority leader. Yarbro has represented Senate District 21 since 2015.

Lee Harris, who was recently elected as Shelby County Mayor, had served in the minority leader role since 2015, the same year he was elected to represent Senate District 29.
Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, was selected as the Democratic caucus chairwoman, taking over the role from Yarboro. Akbari previously served House District 91 since 2013 and was elected in November to represent Senate District 29, the seat previously held by Lee Harris.

Sen. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, was elected as Democratic floor leader. Gilmore was elected to the Senate District 19 seat previously held by Sen. Thelma Harper in November.
Previously, Gilmore had served in the House, representing District 54 since 2007.

Sen. Katrina Robinson, D-Memphis, was elected as minority whip. She was elected in November to the District 33 seat previously held by Reginald Tate, who she defeated in the Democratic primary.

Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, was elected vice-chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus. Kyle has represented District 30 since 2015.

For the House Democrats, Rep. Karen Camper, D-Memphis, was nominated to replace Craig Fitzhugh as minority leader in the House.

Fitzhugh gave up his District 82 seat for a gubernatorial bid. Camper was first elected to represent House District 87 in 2008.

Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, was elected minority whip in the House, taking over from retiring lawmaker Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga. Powell has represented Tennessee House District 53 since 2012.

Rep. Harold Love Jr., D-Nashville, was elected as the minority floor leader, taking over the position from Raumesh Akbari, who was elected to serve House District 29. Love has represented House District 58. Rep. London Lamar, D-Memphis, was elected assistant floor leader.

Rep. Rick Staples, D-Knoxville, will serve as assistant minority leader, taking over the role from Rep. Joe Towns Jr., D-Memphis. Staples was elected in 2016 to represent House District 15.

Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, will remain the minority caucus chair and Rep. John DeBerry Jr., D-Memphis, will remain the minority leader pro tempore.