Senate elects McNally new speaker as General Assembly convenes

Senate elects McNally new speaker as General Assembly convenes

January 10th, 2017 by Andy Sher in Politics State

FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2016, file photo, state Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, walks past protesters lining the tunnel connecting the legislative office complex to the state Capitol on the opening day of the second session of the 109th General Assembly in Nashville, Tenn. Senate Republicans, who control 28 of 33 seats in the upper chamber of the General Assembly, are scheduled to meet Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, to nominate their leaders. McNally has been the consensus choice to succeed Speaker Ron Ramsey, who has retired. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

Photo by The Associated Press /Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - The 110th General Assembly convened at the Capitol today with Tennessee senators electing Sen. Randy McNally as their new speaker, making the veteran Oak Ridge legislator just the second Republican speaker of the upper chamber in modern times.

McNally succeeds former Sen. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, who did not seek reelection to the Senate last year. In Tennessee, the Senate speaker is also the lieutenant governor.

McNally, 72, who has served 30 years and eight years before that in the House, thanked colleagues and praised his predecessor Ramsey who had served five two-year terms as speaker.

Turning to the chamber, McNally, who has served the past decade as Senate Finance Committee chairman, said "serving you is not a responsible that I take lightly. As speaker of the Senate, it's a big job and I'm certainly humbled by the trust you've placed.

"I'm confident that my journey to this time and place was prepared well in advance by the many interactions I've had with you."

McNally, a retired pharmacists, also said, "I recognize that I can't complete that job alone, that there's no one individual that's the Senate and we all are the Senate and we will all move forward together."

McNally occupies a unique place in Tennessee history. As a freshman senator, he exposed corruption in the late 1980s at the state Capitol by wearing a wire for the FBI in the probe code-named Operation Rocky Top.

House members reelected Rep. Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, to a fourth term in the lower chamber.

Today marks the start of the General Assembly's organizational session. On Wednesday, House and Senate members will meet to reelect the state's three constitutional officers.