Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey blamed Democrats Thursday for an increasingly acrimonious political climate at the state Capitol and warned Republicans will retaliate in kind.
Calling for bipartisan problem-solving this week, Gov. Bill Haslam urged Democrats and Republicans to tone down their rhetoric over GOP legislation to repeal public school teachers’ right to collective bargaining. Ramsey said the governor made the same pitch during a meeting Wednesday with legislative leaders. But the senator said Republican leaders responded:
“When we get called terrorists, when we get called fascists, we’re going to respond back.”
“Has the rhetoric gotten out of hand on the other side?” Ramsey said.
At his weekly media availability, Ramsey said he is upset because House Democratic caucus chairman Mike Turner lamented “terrorism against our teachers” during a Tennessee Education Association protest rally Saturday at Legislative Plaza. Ramsey also complained about a news release in which Democratic Party chairman Chip Forrester denounced “fascist measures” by Republicans.
“Make no mistake about it,” Forrester said in the release. “This is a political attack on teachers for supporting Democratic leaders who have stood up for education in our state. If passed, these fascist measures will silence the voice of teachers working to improve our schools, communities and our state.”