Friday, January 14, 2005



Posted By on Fri, Jan 14, 2005 at 4:00 AM

As it turned out, John Wilder did less blinking in the eyeball-to-eyball confrontation with state Senate Republicans than they did. Having gained reelection on Tuesday as Senate speaker (and, therefore, as Lt. Governor) despite their one-vote majority in the chamber, Wilder deigned on Thursday not to honor an on-again, off-again commitment to give the GOP majority status among committee chairmen nor in the membership of two key committees.

At the end of the day Democrats still headed five of the body's nine committees-- the same ones as before, in fact. Most importantly, Finance and Commerce, the two blue-chip committees, remained in Democratic hands, chaired by Doug Henry of Nashville and Jerry Cooper of Morrison, respectively. Finance and Commerce also retained their previous Democratic majorities. The sole concession made to the Senate Republicans by Wilder was to give them majority status on the remaining seven committees.

Wilder had won reelection with the aid of two Republican votes-- those of Micheal Williams of Maynardville and Tim Burchett of Knoxville. Williams had, late in the game, become a lateral substitution of sorts of Memphis senator Curtis Person, a longtime Wilder loyalist who voted with the majority of his partymates Tuesday to name Ron Ramsey of Bluntville to the speakership. Person contended that Wilder had reneged on a pledge to appoint across-the-board GOP majorities, and Wilder more or less confirmed that fact. Person retained his chairmanship of Judiciary, all the same.

Two newly appointed Republican chairs are Mark Norris of Memphisw, Transportation, and freshman senator Jamie Hagood of Knoxville, Education. Hagood had been the subject of much pre-session speculation as a possible reserve GOP vote for Wilder.

The complete list of Senate chairs announced Thursday by Wilder is as follows.

á Commerce - Chairman Jerry Cooper, D-Morrison.

á Environment and Conservation - Chairman David Fowler, R-Signal Mountain.

á Education - Chairman Jamie Hagood, R-Knoxville.

á Finance - Chairman Douglas Henry, D-Nashville.

á General Welfare - Chairman John Ford, D-Memphis.

á Judiciary - Chairman Curtis Person, R-Memphis.

á Transportation - Chairman Mark Norris, R-Collierville.

áá Government Operations - Chairman Thelma Harper, D-Nashville.

á State and Local Government - Chairman Steve Cohen, D-Memphis.

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