Williamson County Republican Representative Sam Whitson said he “thought about it hard,” before he told embattled House Speaker Glen Casada he needs to step down.
Whitson is one of a handful of Republican representatives going public with their call for the Speaker’s resignation, but he’s the first to go on camera detailing what he told his fellow Williamson Co. Republican.
“I called him and said: ‘As a friend, and for the good of the caucus and for the good of the General Assembly and for the state of Tennessee, I would ask you to step aside in your role as Speaker of the House,'” Rep. Whitson told News 2.
Like so many Tennessee House Republicans, Whitson talks about “a difficult week” on Capitol Hill.
Whitson first learned about the racist text messages sent by Casada’s now-fired Chief of Staff Cade Cothren. A few days later, he heard reports of other, sexually explicit text conversations that the speaker later admitted participating in with Cothren.
The lawmaker says his Williamson County constituents overwhelmingly support him in his decision to ask Speaker Casada to resign.
“We got to remember the institution — the credibility of the institution is greater than any one individual,” Rep. Whitson said.
While Whitson lauds Casada’s roll in uniting the House on the recently passed state budget and helping with steps toward Medicaid coverage of kids with disabilities, the lawmaker doesn’t think the Speaker can get past the texting scandal.
Whitson believes Casada will eventually realize that, too.
“I feel Glen will make the right decision in the end,” Rep. Whitson added. “I really do. He’s a smart man.”
As of Thursday evening, Speaker Casada has given no indication that he plans to step aside.
Casada has indicated that a majority of House Republicans still support him. However, another Republican lawmaker told News 2 there may only be about 15 or 20 members who continue to support Casada.
Rep. Whitson said he’s asking Rep. Casada to resign his position as House Speaker, but not from his seat in the legislature.
“That will be up to the voters next year,” Rep. Whitson said.