I suspect that some legislators are holding off reacting publicly to Rep. Kent Williams’ speakership scheme until after he announces committee appointments, but a few have been so bold to go ahead and let us know exactly what they think of the Not-So-Honorable Speaker Williams.

Rep. Stacey Campfield wrote on his blog “…many Republicans…say they would have preferred to have Naifeh as speaker. At least he had a clue what was going on and would call on people. Kent was blatantly ignoring people when they were asking to be recognised. When he did recognize them he was rude and had no clue how to respond to simple questions. The Dems just elected someone who just got out of the freshman class to lead the house. Scary for our state.”

I’m not sure that a Speaker Williams is any scarier than a Speaker Naifeh. Because Williams is so inexperienced, he will certainly have to seek help in doing the job of Speaker, and since he’s alienated the entire Republican wing of the House, he’ll have to turn to the Democrats. He can say he’s not a puppet, but Williams will without doubt be guided by Former Speaker Naifeh. We can reasonably call Williams a “Speaker In Name Only,” because, although he is holding the gavel, Naifeh will be calling the shots.

Republican Representative David Hawk of Greeneville had much the same reaction as the other Republican legislators who have come out in opposition to Williams. Shock. Dismay. Disgust. Hawk said that Williams “lied to all six million people across the state.”

Democrat Eddie Yokely of Greene County, on the other hand, called Williams “a fine person, somebody we’ll be able to work with to get things done in Tennessee.” Right. Like Jimmy Naifeh is a “fine person,” eh?

Jason Mumpower, the Republican Representative who was defeated by Williams, said At the end of the day, we’ve just got to get down to work.” Although that’s going to be a bit more difficult since Williams just ticked off 49 members of the House.

When it comes down to it, Williams’ move was nothing more than a political power play. I wouldn’t have such a problem with his Speakership if he had just been up front about it. The back room deals that took place, and the way that Williams and the Democrats sprung this on the House (not to mention Naifeh’s entrance into the Chamber with a, um, smirk on his face…) was dirty politics no matter how you slice it. Sure, some will say that he wouldn’t have become Speaker if he’d been up front because the Republicans would have fought against him, but that doesn’t excuse his lies. Even if you lose, honesty is still the best policy. If Williams truly cared about Carter County and wanted to be bipartisan and cooperative, he wouldn’t have just screwed fully one-half of the Legislature (more than that if you consider that even Dems didn’t know what he was up to until the now-infamous “30-minute recess”).

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