Stash this in the What Hath Roz Wrought file: GOP state senator Micheal (sic) Williams of Maynardville was scheduled to announce his departure from the Republican Party on Wednesday, according to NashvillePost.com.
It is generally conceded that if Sen. Rosalind Kurita (D-Clarksville) had not voted for Republican Ron Ramsey as speaker, making Williams vote moot, he would have been a deciding vote for former speaker John Wilder (D-Somerville).
Williams had voted for Wilder as speaker two years and was expected to again. He was Speaker Pro Tem under Wilder, but saw that post go to Kurita after the switchover.
Bob Davis, chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, quickly responded to Williams' action, with the following statement:
"I wish Mike Williams well. However, I guarantee that come November 2008, there will be a Republican representative in that district. Williams will not be a factor."
Though Williams is expected to caucus with the Senate Democrats, he has not yet stated any intention to formally declare himself a Democrat.
Over the last several months, however, leading Democrats on Capitol Hill made freqauent background statements advising that such a party change on Williams' part might well be forthcoming.
Up until now, the lineup in the state Senate was 17 Republicans and 16 Democrats. It's 16-16 as of Wednesday, but if Williams (technically now an independent) crosses over, the Democrats will once again own a majority. In whatever eventuality, though, Lt. Governor Ramsey will be the body's speaker for the duration of this and next year's session.