The newly robust House Republican Caucus will meet Thursday for the first time to choose between Reps. Beth Harwell of Nashville and Glen Casada of College Grove as their nominee for speaker.
Republicans were notified of the election, to be held in a meeting at the AT&T Tower in downtown Nashville, in a letter Monday from both Casada and Harwell.
“[W]e want to begin the process of governing, and the sooner we can get this internal caucus election past us, the quicker we can undertake this task,” the letter said. “With a class of 22 new freshmen and 64 total caucus members, it is important for us to begin the work that our citizens expect of us. By voting on Thursday, this will ensure us the ability to do just that.”
Harwell, a former state party chair, has come under fire from Second Amendment advocates and Tea Party groups who claim she’s too moderate politically to run the House. She opposed the controversial guns-in-bars law in the last legislature. Casada has been chairman of the House GOP political caucus and a champion of conservative causes.
The speaker in the last General Assembly, Kent Williams, endorsed Harwell as his successor. Williams is an independent who decided against running for another term after Republicans gained 14 seats in the House in November’s election.
“I hear it’s pretty tight. It’s pretty close,” Williams said Monday of the Casada-Harwell contest. “Anybody who says Beth Harwell is not a Republican is an idiot. She’s raised probably more money for Republicans through her years than anyone.”