By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ
NASHVILLE – Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) has been selected as the new GOP nominee for Tennessee House speaker. For the first time in decades, an Upper Cumberland member of the House of Representatives will serve as speaker.
Sexton, who serves as the current Republican Caucus chairman, defeated Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) in the fourth round of voting with 41 votes.
Other nominees for House Speaker were: Reps. Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah, Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough), Jay Reedy (R-Erin), and Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville).
The entire House chamber will convene August 23 for a special session called by the governor to officially vote for a speaker. Sexton will officially become speaker that day, as House Republican Caucus by-laws require its members to vote for the party’s nominee during the chamber’s floor vote and the Republicans hold a supermajority in both chambers.
Rep. Sexton is set to replace Rep. Glen Casada, who has resigned as speaker effective Aug. 2. The office of speaker will be filled by Speaker-Pro-Tem Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) from Aug. 2 until the special session. Casada resigned the position over mounting scandals including alleged inappropriate text messages and reports of intimidation and spying Women are changing Agon other members of the chamber.
Sexton began his speech asking for the chamber member’s votes by distancing himself from Casada’s previous aides.
“Those people who have left employment here will not be coming back if I’m your speaker, and there may be some who are here now who will not be here when I become speaker,” Sexton said.
Sexton further distanced himself from the tactics that were employed under Casada’s leadership.
“You will never see a “kill bill” list coming from my office to tell any chairman what to do or not to do. Maintain order, decorum and strength, not weakness.
“I believe our next speaker needs to have balance between policy and politics, it cannot be one or the other. It is a requirement.”
Sexton shared that he had traveled to over 50 districts while campaigning for the speaker position and the common message that he heard was that the Republican Party needs to continue to lead.
“I can assure you we will continue to lead at the same time, we need to build you up, we don’t need to tear each other down,” Sexton said. “This election is about getting back to the basics and continuing to lead – vote your district, vote your conscious – have faith and trust in your chairman, in the members of the committee to pass good public policy.”
Sexton went on to remind caucus members of how important their role is in providing a counterbalance to the other parts of government and reminded them of their many successes.
“As we continue to lead, let’s not forget about the past and current successes like Katie Beckett, the tax cuts, the job and income growth that we had, how we’re the lowest debt state in America. Let’s continue to promote what we have done and accomplished.
“My job is to make sure that you are empowered, included and have everything you need to be successful. Maintaining your individual freedom and liberties will also help you to be successful. Your success is Tennessee’s success. I will remain strong voice with a steady hand who provides bold leadership and treats everyone with consistency and fairness.”
Sexton ended his request for their support by offering his continued support of the caucus members.
“I stand with you today just like I have every single day I’ve been here,” Sexton added. “I want you to be successful. Leadership is empowering others to shine. As speaker, I want to make sure we have 73 shining stars that will lead our TriStar. I would appreciate your vote for speaker, and I’m humbled to be here today.”
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden released the following statement on the House Republican Caucus Speaker nominee:
“I’ve known Cameron for more than 20 years, beginning when we both worked for the TNGOP. He has been one of my closest friends in politics and an absolutely wonderful person. The House Caucus made a great choice. Cameron has always put people before politics, and I look forward to his leadership of Tennessee.”
Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally tweeted, “I look forward to working with @CSexton25 to build upon our success as a majority and secure a better future for the people of Tennessee.”
Sexton represents the 25th district comprised of Cumberland, Van Buren, and part of Putnam counties.