NASHVILLE - The Tennessee Republican Executive Committee is moving swiftly to boot the new Republican House Speaker Kent Williams from the party after he was elected to the House's top post by Democrats over Republican Jason Mumpower on Tuesday.
Eighteen members of the Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee have signed a document that was presented Tuesday night to state GOP Chairwoman Robin Smith. It challenges the "bona fide" status of Rep. Williams, R-Butler, GOP spokesman Bill Hobbs said in a news release.
The move prompts a review under party bylaws. Republicans maintain Rep. Williams broke his "signed oath" and "multiple verbal promise" to Republican lawmakers and party officials to vote for the House Republican Caucus nominee for speaker, Rep. Mumpower, R-Bristol.
"Williams put personal ambition ahead of honor and lied his way into the speaker's chair," said Mr. Hobbs.
If stripped of his status, Rep. Williams would not be permitted to run on the GOP ballot in 2010.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Rep. Williams said he still considers himself a Republican and would only reluctantly become an independent.
"I probably did violate my oath," Rep. Williams said and then attacked Mrs. Smith, the party chair. "She makes the rules. She's queen of the Republican Party and she's the one that leads us around with the nose ring. Well, I'm not going to be led around by the nose ring. If they don't want me in the Republican Party that's fine. I'll be an independent ... But in my heart I'll always be a Republican."