House majority leader on Speaker Casada: ‘We have to get this right’

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A top Tennessee House Republican says “we have got to get this right” concerning the future of House Speaker Glen Casada.

Those comments from Republican House Majority Leader William Lamberth late Friday come as Casada faces a confidence vote from his fellow GOP members on Monday after a texting scandal in office.

“This is a really big decision for this caucus, and for the state,” Rep. Lamberth said. “We are going to take our time, follow the rules and get it right.”

“All I would ask is that the people of Tennessee give us a little time to figure this out because it’s not an easy decision to make about the speaker,” Lamberth added.

Like other lawmakers, including House Republican Caucus Chair Cameron Sexton, Lamberth said the goal of the upcoming vote is to come out as a unified Republican caucus — either supporting or not supporting Speaker Casada decision to remain in office. 

Rep. Lamberth indicated there is no mechanism for removing the speaker from the leadership position, and Rep. Casada has not said if he would resign if there is not majority support for him at Monday’s meeting.

Earlier, a spokesperson for Speaker Casada said the lawmaker had resigned his longtime private-sector job selling pharmaceuticals for Merck & Co., “so he can devote more time to his job as speaker.”

Since the last day of the legislative session, Speaker Casada has been dealing with reports of “racist” or “sexist” text messages sent three years ago by his now-fired Chief of Staff Cade Cothren.

Speaker Casada admits to sharing lewd responses to two of the sexually-explicit texts and maintains “the overwhelming majority” of the House’s 73-Republicans out of 99 members “is still with me.”

This comes as another Republican House member said he would be asking Speaker Casada to resign.

Hamilton County Rep. Mike Carter said Friday “the final straw” was “attempting to pre-determine an opinion from the ethics committee.”

Last week, Speaker Casada asked for an advisory opinion from the Tennessee House Ethics Committee about Cothren’s resignation in the wake of the texting scandal, but several members, like Rep. Carter, learned Monday there was already a “rough draft” of the opinion before the committee had even met.

A meeting Monday was later canceled with no word of when it might be re-scheduled.
 
Other Republican House members who have called for Speaker Casada’s resignation, like Rep. Sam Whitson, have said “I don’t know how we can overcome this. It will continue to be a distraction.” 

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