NASHVILLE - State Rep. Mike Carter, R-Oolewah, made it official today: He's running for Tennessee House majority leader.
"After much consideration and encouragement from House members across Tennessee, I have decided to formally seek the position of Majority Leader for the 110th General Assembly," Carter said in a letter to fellow Republicans. "I am fully committed to this effort and am asking for your support."
Carter said his "number one priority is to return the public's respect to the House of Representatives as a body. I promise to always put the best interests of the Caucus before my own. When it comes to the majority party, the buck will stop with me."
House Republican Caucus Leader Glen Casada of Franklin is widely expected to seek the post as well. Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, is running as well.
The majority leader post, the chamber's No. 2 post, is opening as a result of current Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, who recently said he doesn't intend to run in the GOP Caucus for another term.
With 73 members, Republicans control the majority leader position in the 99-member chamber where Democrats have just 26 members. The majority leader represents his or her caucus on the chamber floor and assists the House speaker with administrative decisions and handles legislation for the governor if they are of the same party and in this case with Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.
The chamber has undergone a tumultuous year with a sexual harassment scandal involving now-ousted Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin. Republicans split over the ouster and Durham was cast out of the chamber only with the aid of Democrats, who have pointed an accusing fingers at House Speaker Beth Harwell's management of the chamber.
Some of the chamber's more right-wing members have also chafed over differences with Haslam.
Carter noted the "role of Majority Leader, in part, is to represent and convey the House's priorties to the executive branch.
"Our conservative views should be reflected in the bills that come before us for a vote. This will be accomplished by working with the executive branch from a bill's conception through to its final form," Carter said.
Carter also noted the "Majority's participation in the formation of legislation is our constitutional right and duty to perform as a body. Leaving in May, returning in January, without preparation, communication, or strategic planning is an ineffective way to run a Super Majority. Communication with every member is essential and will be maintained."