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House Republicans vote to close caucus meetings to public, keep current leadership


There will be no shakeup in House Republican leadership this year, a decision that followed two tumultuous years for the group after its caucus election in November 2018.

House Republicans on Tuesday officially decided they want to keep Speaker Cameron Sexton in charge, as well as Majority Leader William Lamberth and Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison.

Sexton, R-Crossville, and Lamberth, R-Portland, did not face opponents during the Tuesday election. Rep. Andy Farmer, R-Sevierville, initially planned to challenge Lamberth but withdrew in recent weeks.

Faison, R-Cosby, held on to his position despite Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, launching a campaign against him. The tally was not released.

RELATED: Lt. Gov. Randy McNally gets unanimous GOP approval to remain speaker

All other members previously holding caucus leadership were reelected to their positions without any contest. Freshman Rep. Michele Carringer, R-Knoxville, became caucus secretary.

After a last-minute change because of a restriction on gatherings by Nashville Mayor John Cooper, the meeting took place in the House chamber instead of a downtown hotel.

"I will continue to be looking to adapt to what the needs are for each one of you so that you're successful at 比特币合约交易地址_合约交home," Faison told the caucus in his speech ahead of the vote. "We will continue to share the story of who we are and what has made Tennessee the best state in the nation."

House Republicans retained all 73 of their seats in the November election, despite some races expected to be close.

Touting gains made by House Republicans in 2008 while she was chair of the Tennessee Republican Party, Smith had proposed that she would address concerns raised by caucus members she spoke to while campaigning. Those included improving communication, focusing on all members' reelections and not just "targeted races" as well as leveraging caucus resources "more effectively."

The GOP group's first order of business Tuesday was voting to close all of its future meetings to the public, including members of the media. A motion to do so was brought by Rep. Chris Todd of Madison County. The vote passed 56-11.

The House GOP Caucus' actions stand in contrast with Senate Republicans, who only hold open caucus meetings, per Senate rules.

After the meeting, Faison defended the new closed-door policy.

"It says to the people of Tennessee that we want to take care of our personal business within our caucus to ourself," Faison said, vowing that they would not be voting on official business.

Caucus meetings are also used as an opportunity for the majority party to discuss legislation prior to floor votes.

Meeting resulted in much less shakeup than in 2018

Two years ago, Rep. Glen Casada, R-Franklin, ascended to become the new speaker nominee. Once finalized by a floor vote in January 2019 at the start of the 111th General Assembly, Casada remained in the position for just over four months before the caucus held a vote of no-confidence over his role in a scandal involving sexist and racist texts with a top aide. He ultimately resigned as speaker.

Sexton became the new speaker later that summer, presiding over the House after a short stint of Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, serving as acting speaker.

In the November 2018 caucus election, with the selection of Casada as speaker nominee after the departure of former Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, the caucus saw a complete change in leadership.

Lamberth became majority leader, and Sexton was elected caucus chairman.

Casada quickly got to work enacting major changes, creating more than a dozen new House committees and promoting longtime aide Cade Cothren to a $199,000 chief of staff position.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans also voted to keep their current leadership in place, electing Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, as nominee for speaker, a position he has held since 2017.

Reach Natalie Allison at nallison@tennessean.com. Follow her on Twitter at @natalie_allison.

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