Press release from State Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale; November 18, 2014:
As previously announced, I have decided to seek the position of Speaker-Select, and ultimately, Speaker of the House for the 109th Tennessee General Assembly, challenging the current Speaker, Rep. Beth Harwell, for the position.
I appreciate the service of Rep. Beth Harwell as Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives over the past four years. I respectfully submit, however, that competition in any organization, whether in business, the military, or politics, is a healthy variable that yields greater accountability, introduces fresh ideas, and provides new direction to the process.
The Speaker of the House is one of the most important positions within Tennessee state government, with the speaker being second in line for succession to the governorship in the event of such need. Additionally, the speaker is not only responsible for overseeing the full operation of the majority caucus, but is granted the power to appoint all House committee members and chairman, and is a voting member of all standing committees. The speaker also serves as co-chair, with the Lt. Governor, of the Joint Legislative Services Committee which must approve the directors of the offices of Legislative Information Services, Legislative Budget Analysis, Legislative Administration, and Legal Services.
The speaker’s importance and power is further expanded in serving as a member of special committees that include Fiscal Review Committee, Council on Pensions and Insurance, the State Building Committee, and possibly a newly, reconstituted Judicial Nominating Commission.
The people of Tennessee deserve to have a speaker that has been fully vetted and is up to task of assuming such a position of leadership. The Speaker of the House is not just a popularity contest for class president centered around an imposed, and restricted, three minute speech before the newly elected members of the 109th Republican Caucus. It is an office that possesses extraordinary consequences, and as such, demands to be recognized as a position of extreme importance. Therefore, in written correspondence with Speaker Harwell, I have respectfully requested that she and I engage in a public, one hour debate, at a place and time of her choosing, before the December 10th caucus election. If not a public debate, then at the very least, a debate before all elected members of the 109th Tennessee General Assembly. I earnestly await her response.