GOP state legislators fill out leadership team

Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 3:37pm

By giving Ron Ramsey his third term as Senate speaker Thursday, Republican legislators finished choosing their leadership team for the 107th General Assembly.

Senate Republicans also re-elected Mark Norris of Collierville as majority leader. In the only contest of the day, Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro defeated Chattanooga’s Bo Watson to become chairman of the party’s Senate political caucus.

“We have strong majorities now in both the House and the Senate,” Ramsey said.  “We have an historic opportunity and responsibility to make sure we do what we said we would do.”

House Republicans met Wednesday to elect Chattanooga’s Gerald McCormick as majority leader and Hendersonville’s Debra Maggart as caucus chair.

Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, won the nomination for speaker pro-tempore. He will take up the gavel in the speaker’s absence. Earlier, Republicans nominated Beth Harwell of Nashville as speaker of the House.

“I’m a problem-solver,” Matheny said. “I’m going to sit back and look for issues that need to be solved on an individual basis, and I’m going to step in and help solve those, whether they be legislatively or whether they be strictly political.”

House Democrats meet next week to pick their leaders. Outnumbered by Republicans 64-34 in the House after November’s elections, Democrats have said they won’t nominate a speaker, ceding the office to Harwell. 

Reps. Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley and Memphis’ John DeBerry are challenging House Minority Leader Gary Odom of Nashville for their party’s top House position. Nashville’s Mike Turner is running unopposed for another term as his party’s caucus chair.