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EXCLUSIVE - Beavers talks resignation
Jan 18, 2005 12:00 am
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
State Sen. Mae Beavers today may voluntarily end the state political career she fought so hard to win.
Beavers said she would likely decide today whether or not to keep her Senate seat, citing frustrations over differences with Senate leadership on committee assignments and overall discouragement about her Republican Party's failure to control the Senate despite holding a majority.
"Anything could happen," Beavers said when asked Monday afternoon if she planned to resign her Senate seat or leave the Republican Party. "But I'm not considering going independent or changing parties. I haven't made any decision."
Sitting in her Senate office Monday – which was picked clean of pictures and personal items – Beavers said she was disappointed when committee assignments were announced following talks between the Republican majority leadership and Democratic Lt. Governor John Wilder, the speaker of the Senate.
She said she was as unhappy as many Republicans in the state were when Wilder was re-elected to the speaker's post.
Wilder was re-elected speaker despite Republicans winning a majority in the legislative body during last year's elections. Two of Beaver's fellow Senate Republicans, Mike Williams and Tim Burchett, crossed party lines and returned Wilder to the speaker's seat.
"That's a big thing with me right now," Beavers said. "We have the majority but we don't have the majority."
In addition, Beavers said though Republicans gained a majority of committee chairs, the rules of "seniority" in the Senate bylaws were not followed concerning committee assignments. Beavers said less senior members of the Senate were given preference over her when it came to committee assignments.
Beavers' decision to stay in the Senate may hinge on a meeting today with GOP Senate Majority Leader Ron Ramsey on filing a formal complaint with Wilder over adherence to the seniority rules.
"I feel like they (Republican leadership) should have objected on seniority," Beavers said Monday. "It's my understanding they are looking into doing that. I'm not sure it has ever come into play in the past."
When asked if she was personally or professionally upset over the committee assignments, Beavers cited her decade in the legislature stretching back to her House career.
"I think anybody would be," Beavers said. "I've been up here for 10 years."
"My people voted for me because they wanted representation too," Beavers added later. "When the rules are not followed it affects more people than just me."
The possibility of Beavers resigning or leaving the Republican Party has been discussed with the GOP leadership in the Senate.
Ramsey said Monday morning he had spoken with Beavers and she had said either her resignation or leaving the party could happen.
"I do know that Mae is very disappointed in her committee assignments and in not getting a committee chair, and rightfully so." Ramsey said. "We fought tooth and nail for her."
Ramsey added that when Wilder was re-elected, the speaker had the "full right and authority" to make the assignments.
"I think she (Beavers) is frustrated, but I think she will get over it," Ramsey said. "I understand her frustration."
Others in the GOP suggested Beavers may have been passed over for committee assignments because of the newfound GOP majority in the legislative body and Beavers' upcoming bid for re-election should she decide to stay.
Beavers won the 17th District Senate seat in 2002 after it had been held for two decades by a Democrat, former Sen. Bob Rochelle. Democrats have said they will target the seat in 2006 when Beavers would seek her second term.
"I think it definitely shows she is going to be targeted in two years," said GOP campaign consultant Darren Morris, who worked for Beavers during her 2002 race. "This is pure political motivation."
Neither Wilder nor his staff could be reached at the Legislature on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday Monday.
Beavers did leave the door open to remaining in her Senate seat regardless of how the committee issues developed today.
She insisted her bare office was because she was scheduled to move to another office and said she was mulling over her options with her family, including her husband.
"Who knows," Beavers said of her Senate future. "Jerry and I are talking about some things."
Beavers rose to political prominence statewide after fighting against a state income tax backed by her own party's governor, Don Sundquist.
She won election to the House in 1994 by defeating former state representative Monty Mires. Beavers lost to Mires the first time around in 1992.
Beavers, a court reporter by trade, earned her reputation as a fiscal conservative locally after serving on the Wilson County Commission where she spearheaded the creation of the Commission's powerful Finance Committee.
Managing Editor Clint Brewer can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 13 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.