Judd Matheny may be challenged for pro tem spot

Judd Matheny may be challenged for pro tem spot

September 15th, 2012 by Andy Sher in News

Judd Matheny

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Last month, state House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny considered challenging Speaker Beth Harwell for the speakership, complaining that issues he cares about were getting ignored by the GOP "status quo."

Matheny, a Tullahoma Republican, dropped the idea earlier this month, with most observers saying Harwell's position within the 64-member GOP caucus is secure.

But now it appears Matheny exposed one of his flanks and could face his own caucus challenge when running for re-election as speaker pro tem.

Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, confirmed Friday that he is considering running for pro tem. The speaker pro tem presides over the House when the speaker is absent and is a voting member of all House committees.

Johnson said some members approached him about the pro tem slot after it looked like Matheny might take on Harwell.

"But right now my primary focus is trying to get Republican members elected to the House," he said. "After the general election we'll take a look at it."

Asked whether Harwell was among those encouraging him to run, Johnson said, "no, no, no."

Matheny has been a fierce advocate of gun rights in the House. Last session, there was a running battle between the National Rifle Association and its allies against business interests and most House leaders over a guns-in-parking-lots bill.

The bill failed and the NRA spent more than $75,000 to help political newcomer Courtney Rogers defeat House Republican Caucus Chairman Debra Maggart, of Hendersonville.

Matheny also pushed legislation aimed at containing what he sees as the spread of radical Islam in the state. The bill didn't pass.

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Chalk up another worry for Democratic lawmakers in the November elections.

Republican House and Senate members had a hugely successful joint fundraiser Thursday in Nashville, hauling in an estimated $475,000.

Tickets for the Nashville event ranged from $2,500 for a courtyard reception outside the War Memorial Building to a $10,000-per-ticket event inside the War Memorial's auditorium and $25,000 for a dinner at the Hermitage Hotel with top legislative leadership and special guests.

Among the special guests were former Republican governors Don Sundquist and Winfield Dunn.

Proceeds are split between the House and Senate Republican caucuses.

• • •

The Tennessee Supreme Court this week named James "Tony" Vick as interim chief disciplinary counsel for the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, which monitors and disciplines attorneys.

The appointment follows the planned departure of Nancy Jones on Sept. 30. Vick now serves as the board's ethics counsel and has been with the organization for more than 16 years.

"Tony Vick has been a real asset to the BPR for a long time, and having him step up to guide the office while a new chief disciplinary counsel is selected will provide excellent continuity to the board's operations," Chief Justice Gary Wade said in a news release. Vick has indicated that he won't apply for permanent appointment to the position, court officials say.

The board is accepting applications for the chief disciplinary counsel position. Submit applications to the Administrative Office of the Courts, attention Cindy Saladin, Human Resources director.

The deadline is Sept. 30, and the new counsel begins work on Jan. 1, 2013. Interested applicants can find the job requirements at www.tncourts.gov.