Republicans in the state House of Representatives have selected their next group of leaders, but the vote had some added drama, as one top lawmaker addressed rumors of infidelity.
GOP lawmakers elevated Franklin Republican Glen Casada to Majority Leader in a meeting Thursday afternoon at the Nashville City Club. The vote will make Casada the second-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives after helping to build the GOP's 49-seat lead in that chamber.
But Casada's bid was thrown a curveball, when an anonymous blog posted pictures of him drinking with young women. He addressed the posts shortly before the vote.
"What this video is insinuating and what this blog is insinuating is that I've had extramarital affairs," he told legislators. "I have not, will not and I have not, been unfaithful to my wife. I am not that person."
Casada ended up beating Ooltewah's Mike Carter on a 42-29 vote.
Nashville Republican Beth Harwell was nominated to a fourth term as speaker. Going into the vote, it was less than certain she'd remain.
Harwell has been criticized for her leadership, including her handling of the expulsion of Jeremy Durham and her opposition to Governor Bill Haslam's plan to expand Medicaid. Her opponent, Lenoir City Rep. Jimmy Matlock, promised to unify the GOP caucus.
But Harwell nonetheless won the nomination on a 40-30 vote. The final vote for the House speakership will come when the General Assembly convenes in January.
In the state Senate, Republicans also put together their list of leaders on Thursday.
As expected, longtime Oak Ridge Sen. Randy McNally won the GOP nomination to be that chamber's next speaker. He'll follow Blountville's Ron Ramsey, who is retiring after a decade in charge.
Memphis Sen. Mark Norris was reelected as Majority Leader.