Word leaking from numerous sources at LP is that Rep. Mike Harrison, chairman of the infamous House Finance Subcommittee, will be out of the legislature by the end of the year. Harrison will be taking a job with a local government or an association, depending on who you talk to. He is timing his departure so that a successor can be named who will serve until the 2016 elections and who will not have to face a primary special election. The one thing the establishment really hates is actually having to face the voters, especially in a Republican primary.
Harwell for Governor 2018 Starts Right Now.
But aside from deciding the next political hack from Hawkins County, the real story is WWBD – What Will Beth Do? The Harrison departure leaves open a critical chairmanship – perhaps the most import chairmanship in the whole House. Under Harrison (and at the direction of leadership headed by Speaker Harwell) House Finance Sub was where conservative legislation was sent to die. It was the last and best place to subvert the will of the voters, and frequently the will of the majority of the GOP caucus, usually with spurious last-minute fiscal notes and leadership-dictated votes. The committee is largely made up of leadership loyalists who will vote exactly how Harwell or Maj. Leader Gerald McCormick instruct them vote.
So Harwell is in something of a political pickle. If she names another leadership sycophant, she will likely greatly increase the chances she will generate a credible conservative opponent for the Speaker’s chair next Fall. If she has any hope of outreach to the critical conservative base in a primary run against, say, Diane Black and/or Randy Boyd and/or Mark Green, she will need to name a conservative to the post — a real conservative, and not just one for window dressing (like Kevin Brooks).
Don’t think for a minute Republican voter disgust with leadership is isolated to Washington DC or the presidential primaries. The sense of betrayal of the voters by GOP leaders reaches all the way to Tennessee. The activists will be on full alert on this one and they will be loaded for bear.
Choose wisely, Madame Speaker.