Drama could unfold in Thursday’s Tennessee leadership elections

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – While President-Elect Trump faces alleged infighting about his selection of a cabinet, Tennessee House Republicans could face similar drama Thursday when they elect their leaders for the upcoming two-year General Assembly.

With serious challenges to incumbent House Speaker Beth Harwell and House Republican Caucus Chair Glen Casada’s bid to become majority leader, the direction of the 99-member House could significantly shift if one or both are unsuccessful in garnering enough support.

East Tennessee representative Jimmy Matlock is challenging Harwell saying “it’s time for a new day” and that “more transparency” is needed in the Speaker’s office.

Rep. Mike Carter of suburban Chattanooga is running for the majority leader position along with Casada.

The leadership position was vacated earlier this year when incumbent Gerald McCormick said he would not run again for the role.

Rep. Ryan Williams of Cookeville and Rep. Kevin Brooks of Cleveland are vying for Casada’s present position.

Both Casada and Harwell have taken heat from fellow members over the handling of sexual harassment allegations against former Rep. Jeremy Durham, who was eventually expelled from the House this summer.

In the Senate, very little drama is expected as Oak Ridge lawmaker Randy McNally is expected to be nominated by fellow senators for the speaker which doubles as Lt. Governor.

Longtime Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey decided earlier this year not to run for re-election.

Other Republican Senate leadership roles are expected to stay the same.

In both chambers, the Republican speaker elections are nominations, but the nominee will eventually assume that role in January elections because Republicans hold supermajorities in both House and Senate.

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