NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Governor Bill Lee said Monday night he would call for a special session if House Speaker Glen Casada would not resign.
Lee made the statement in a tweet after the House Republican Caucus issued a no confidence vote on Monday about Casada's leadership.
Today House Republicans sent a clear message, and I’m prepared to call a special session if the Speaker doesn’t resign.— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) May 21, 2019
Lee issued the statement after the 45-24 vote of no confidence taken against Casada after a lengthy meeting of the House Republican Caucus.
House Majority Leader William Lamberth also called for Casada to resign and asked Lee to call a special session.
“Today the House Republican Caucus met and sent a strong message that we have lost confidence in Speaker Glen Casada,” Lamberth said in the statement. “I have waited until now to make a statement on my personal position on this matter to allow the Caucus time to meet and deliberate. After today’s vote, it is time for the Speaker to resign, and I hearby request Governor Lee call a special session by the end of June for the House to choose a new Speaker.”
Eight members of the House Republican Leadership also called for Casada's resignation Monday night.
“After a lengthy discussion amongst our Caucus members this afternoon, it is imperative that the Republican Party unite and move forward together," the statement read. "As members of Republican leadership, we are calling on Speaker Casada to resign, and we appreciate Governor Lee’s willingness to call a special session so we can elect a new Speaker of the House.”
The statement came from the following members of House Republican leadership:
- Rep. Cameron Sexton, Caucus Chairman
- Rep. Ron Gant, Assistant Majority Leader
- Rep. Matthew Hill, Deputy Speaker
- Rep. Chris Todd, Freshman Leader
- Rep. Rick Tillis, Majority Whip
- Rep. Paul Sherrell, Majority Floor Leader
- Rep. Clay Doggett, Majority Secretary
- Rep. Mark Cochran, Majority Treasurer
The Republicans debated the status Casada, who has been caught up in a scandal involving lewd and sexists text messages.
The members eventually voted 45-24 to issue the no confidence vote saying the Republican caucus no longer has confidence in their leader.
Casada attended the entire meeting.
News4 was told he apologized to the caucus, however he slipped out of the meeting, dodging our cameras and questions.
Casada has said in the past he has no plans to step down.
“I’m disappointed in the results of today’s caucus vote. However, I will work the next few months to regain the confidence of my colleagues so we can continue to build on the historic conservative accomplishments of this legislative session,” Casada said in a statement after the meeting.
The caucus leaders said they don’t have the ability to vote Casada out of office.
They said it’s unclear to them whether they can legally hold a special session aimed at stripping Casada of his Speaker title.
However, they said they hope today’s no confidence vote sends a strong message to voters about sexism and racism at the state Capitol.
“There is no place in either the House Republican Caucus, in the House, in the legislature or anywhere there is any type of sexist, or racist or any type of inappropriate remark is going to be permitted and I think that has been stated very clearly by this caucus today is that regardless of how long ago, regardless of what the behavior is, we take this type of allegation very, very seriously, and just spent the last several hours, and quite frankly the last several weeks, determining how to respond to this as caucus,” said Lamberth, R-Portland, after the caucus meeting. “I can assure you going forward, regardless of what happens with this particular speaker, or with any of us, we are going to continue to strive to make sure that there’s no place for any type of sexist or racist behavior in the legislature, period.”
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden said in a statement it’s time for Casada to step down.
“The events and actions surrounding Speaker Casada have been a distraction from the great accomplishments of this Legislature and Governor Bill Lee,” Gold said. “Our Republican leadership in the legislature took the right course of action by calling today’s meeting. The vote of no confidence by the Republican caucus sends a clear message; it is time for the Speaker to heed the advice of the majority of his fellow legislators and step down from his position of leadership and allow someone else to begin the process of restoring the trust of all Tennesseans.”
Democrat Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart said Casada should listen to the members of his own party and resign.
“He’s lost the support of the vast majority of the members of the House. He needs to resign,” Stewart said. “I don’t think a months long grace period is appropriate. I also think these issues are not simply going to resolve themselves.”
Stewart said if the governor calls a special session, it could happen as early as next week.
“Governor Lee today talked about the fact that he would consider a special session,” said Stewart. “So I’m expecting him to take leadership.”
A special session could cost at least $100,000.