ABOVE: House Speaker Glenn Casada, left, is sworn in by Chief Justice Jeff Bivins. // STEPHEN ELLIOTT
The Tennessee House of Representatives on Tuesday elected Franklin Republican Glen Casada as speaker, formalizing a pick made by the Republican caucus in November.
Casada succeeds fellow Republican Beth Harwell of Nashville, who retired to run for governor and who bested Casada for the job eight years ago.
The election was among the first actions of the new House, to which dozens of new members were elected in November. Casada will oversee the largest group of freshmen representatives in decades.
Upon taking the gavel from Harwell, Casada thanked the retiring lawmaker.
“For the last 30 years, she has served our state with integrity and distinction,” Casada said. “Few people can match her record of accomplishments, the impact she has had on our state and upon my life.”
Casada, of Thompson’s Station, is also part of a shifting power center in Nashville, where a group of Williamson County Republicans is in the process of taking control. In addition to Casada, Governor-elect Bill Lee and new Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson hail from the county south of the capital city.
The new speaker said he would be focused on “building upon bipartisanship.” Three Democrats – Johnny Shaw of Bolivar, John Mark Windle of Livingston and John Deberry of Memphis — voted for Casada for speaker, rather than the Democratic nominee, Karen Camper. Another, Darren Jernigan of Nashville, abstained.
“Now that our elections are over and they’re behind us we must come together and tackle the greater task, which is governing,” Casada said, addressing the House.
Speaking with reporters after his remarks, Casada said he would announce committee appointments on Thursday and that some of the picks would be “outside the box.”
With Casada vacating his post as majority leader of the House, Cottontown Rep. William Lamberth has taken on that role. The House Republican caucus picked Bill Dunn as speaker pro tempore, Cameron Sexton as caucus chair and Rick Tillis as majority whip.
Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) was again elected speaker of the Senate.
“I do not take lightly the confidence you have placed in me,” McNally said. “To serve you as Speaker of the Senate has been a truly humbling experience. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity to continue in this role. It is my great privilege to represent Tennessee as Lieutenant Governor. I pray I will continue to be equal to the task.”