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GOP attacks Wilder, defends Beavers
Jan 21, 2005 12:00 am
Senate Republicans on Wednesday formally complained to Lt. Gov. John Wilder over the legislative body's committee appointments, a source of partisan aggravation that moved Mt. Juliet's Sen. Mae Beavers to threaten resignation this week.
In addition, the Senate GOP leadership amplified an attack on Wilder's decision to deny Beavers a committee chairmanship despite her seniority over other members, saying Wilder is already beginning a Democratic Party targeting of Beavers' seat in the 2006 elections.
"I can't help but attribute that to old fashion politics," GOP Senate Caucus Chairman Jeff Miller told The Lebanon Democrat on Wednesday. "Gov. Wilder knows Sen. Beavers is running for re-election in two years. She is going to be targeted, and I don't think the other side is going to give her any platform to run off of."
In a letter to Wilder on Wednesday obtained by the newspaper, Miller and GOP Senate Majority Leader Ron Ramsey protested Wilder's appointments and cited the seniority rules in the Senate bylaws.
The letter states it is "on behalf of Senator Mae Beavers and other members of our Caucus who are still disappointed over the process of the committee appointments and the appointments themselves."
"Some members of our Caucus believe this rule was not followed before those appointments were made," the letter continues. "In order for the Senate to be the Senate, our Caucus believes we should adhere to these rules."
Wilder, a Democrat, was returned to the Senate speaker's seat when two Republican senators crossed party lines voting for Wilder. Republicans hold a narrow majority in the Senate for the first time since Reconstruction but did not control committee assignments because of Wilder's re-election.
Miller said had Wilder not seen fit to appoint almost as many Democrats as Republicans to chairmanships Beavers would have been more in the mix for appointments.
He also noted the two Republican senators who crossed party lines – Tim Burchett and Mike Williams – received appointments to the powerful commerce and finance committees, an unusual doubling of choice assignments.
Wilder's chief of staff Russell Humphrey said the letter was received but did not promise any action.
"The Speaker will take it under due consideration," Humphrey said.
He would not comment on Miller's speculation about political motivations regarding Beavers' re-election in 2006.
Beavers has said she will wait until the General Assembly reconvenes Jan. 31 to make any decision about resignation.
Managing Editor Clint Brewer can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 13 or by e-mail at email@example.com.