Amid GOP Rifts Over Guns And Vouchers, Democrats Claim Small Victories

House Democratic Leader Craigh Fitzhugh (center) and Caucus Chairman Mike Turner (right) say to gain ground they have to capitalize on rifts in the GOP supermajority. (Photo courtesy Sean Braisted)

House Democratic Leader Craigh Fitzhugh (center) and Caucus Chairman Mike Turner (right) say to gain ground they have to capitalize on rifts in the GOP supermajority. (Photo courtesy Sean Braisted)

Democrats are claiming victory for a series of legislative misfires over the last two days, pointing to the demise of a pair of controversial gun bills as well as a hard-fought school vouchers plan. But the bills’ failures may have as much to do with Republican infighting.

The vouchers bill, one to allow guns in parks statewide, and one to allow open carry without a permit all passed the state Senate, before being shelved this week in the House.  “Not a bad two days’ work,” tweeted Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh.

House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh claimed victory for several scuttled bills Tuesday morning.

House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh claimed victory for several scuttled bills Tuesday morning.

But the open carry bill failed 10 to 1 in committee (read Monday night’s story here) – suggesting it was more than just Democrats working to scuttle it.  Fitzhugh’s Nashville colleague, outgoing Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner, acknowledges for their small caucus to make headway, they have to exploit cracks in the Republican supermajority.

“Their united front’s not so united, and I think some of the divisions in the Republican party come to bear.”

Turner notes Democrats even allied with tea party members against the governor, to try and delay a new statewide test tied to Common Core education standards.  Both Turner and Republican Frank Niceley expect to see their somewhat bipartisan effort against the test yield a compromise in the next day or so.

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