Cooper: A telling poll for Casada

Cooper: A telling poll for Casada

June 8th, 2019 by Clint Cooper in Opinion Free Press

House Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin, center, waits for the start of a meeting of the House Republican Caucus at a hotel Monday, May 20, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. The caucus is met to discuss the future of Casada, who is ensnarled in a texting scandal. The caucus returned a 45-24 vote of no confidence for Casada. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Expecting an opinion poll to be unbiased these days is about as much wishful thinking as expecting unbiased national media coverage of President Donald Trump, but one finding in a recent Vanderbilt University poll was telling.

Although the poll was taken shortly after trouble began blinking on the radar screen of Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin, early last month, 58 percent of Republicans surveyed thought he ought to resign his position.

Given that polls usually oversample Democrats and poll questions are frequently asked in a way to make Republicans look bad, this was significant. It meant that even if they'd heard little about the speaker's sexually tinged and racist text messages with an aide and with third parties, what they'd heard was not the kind of behavior they'd expect from the leader of the party in the state's lower house.

As last month went on, depending on when they were polled, they may have seen other reports detailing allegations by state Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, that Casada attempted to have an ethics committee create a "statement of facts" on his position on the issues that did not appear to be in line with "documents existing in the public realm." Or that Casada's political action committee had seemingly engaged in dirty tricks to favor candidates he preferred.

Eventually, the speaker's fellow Republicans voted no confidence in him, and ultimately he agreed to step down from his position after returning from an early June overseas trip. But just this week he announced he would not step down until Aug. 2.

We believe if the Vanderbilt poll had been taken this month instead of last, his support from Republicans would be even smaller.

Carter and others believe Casada wants another two months in office to denigrate those who believe he should have stepped down as speaker and even to try to engineer the selection of his successor.

If he does that, Carter said, he would, "in effect, be the shadow speaker."

None of those actions sound like those of a man who believes the best interests of Tennesseans are more important than his own interests. And it is why, even in a poll that on other issues like abortion, health care and voting rights doesn't seem to represent the average Tennessean, a majority of Republicans say Casada should no longer be the speaker of the House.

We hope he'll heed that understanding and step down sooner than Aug. 2.

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