Sheila Butt wants to be floor leader

Republican Sheila Butt, one of 15 Republican legislators who broke ranks to call for the immediate resignation of then-Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, is running for a seat in House leadership.

Butt, of Columbia, sent an email to the House Republican lawmakers Wednesday, saying she will “stand up for each of you and your legislation on the House Floor.” Letters of intent to run for caucus elections are due Monday, Nov. 24, according to caucus staff.

Butt is running to replace Rep. Vance Dennis, who was beaten in the August primary election by “Coach” David Byrd, a high school principal and coach.

The letter Butt and other tea party-minded members sent to Gov. Bill Haslam in June asking for Huffman’s resignation was crafted by Rep. Rick Womick. He had rallied members sharing his viewpoint to push back against controversial Common Core standards last legislative session and announced this month he would run for Speaker against sitting Speaker Beth Harwell, who is considered a key Haslam ally.

Recent emails cast Harwell as moderate and weak on Common Core, a touchy topic among Republicans. Womick has distanced himself from the emails but did not disagree in questioning Harwell’s leadership. Asked what she specifically thought about the criticism, Butt would only say the caucus needs to work together.

“I just think we don’t need to dwell on what we think happened in the past. There’s too much to be done in the next legislative session and we need to make sure that as a caucus, we’re working together for the people of the state of Tennessee,” she said.


(Editor's note: This story has been updated to show the correct due date of Nov. 24 for letters of intent to run for caucus elections.)

Nov 21, 2014 6:53 AM

Summerville wants out of GOP Caucus

Two days after voters overwhelmingly agreed to replace him in the state legislature, Sen. Jim Summerville is calling it quits as a Republican.

In an email sent Saturday morning, the one-term state senator from Dickson told GOP Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron he will finish out his term as an independent. 

August 9, 2014

Senator Bill Ketron, Chairman

Republican Caucus

5 Legislative Plaza

Nashville, Tennessee 37243

By certified mail

Dear Senator Ketron;

For the weeks remaining in my term, I shall be serving as an independent member of the Senate. Please accept my resignation from the Republican caucus, effective immediately.

I will not be attending any of the caucus's social, fundraising, or business events, which seem to me indistinguishable functions.

As the caucus's e-mail simply adds to the clutter in my box, kindly ask Ms Yearwood to delete my address.

Very truly yours,


Mr. Speaker Ramsey

Mr. Russell Humphreys

Legislative Administration

Senate members

Although Summerville is best known for his comment that he didn’t “give a rats ass what the Black Caucus thinks” about a report in 2012 regarding grade changes at Tennessee State University — which led to a demotion from chair of the Education Subcommittee — Summerville attended most caucus meetings last year.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s political action committee gave Summerville $6,000 for his reelection bid, which included cutting a $5,000 check in early July. The sum amounted to almost a third of Summerville’s fundraising this election cycle.

Summerville won the seat in 2010 in an upset by defeating longtime Democrat Doug Jackson. This year, he was one of 10 legislators to lose their seats in Thursday’s election. Kerry Roberts, who served in the Senate until he was drawn out of the upper chamber through redistricting, won the Republican nomination for Summerville's seat and will face Democrat Tony Gross in the general election. Other losses in the upper chamber include Sens. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, and Ophelia Ford, D-Memphis.

Aug 11, 2014 10:30 AM