Tennessee Republicans Demanding Loyalty Oaths

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Tennessee Republicans are trying to prevent history from repeating itself. They're demanding that House GOP candidates take loyalty oaths. Specifically, all candidates are being asked to sign pledges to vote for the Republican nominees for House speaker and other leadership positions.

House Republican Caucus chairman Glen Casada tells Tom Humphrey that voters can decide "do I want a Republican or do I want a renegade."

In 2009, Democrats rose up in a collective sneak attack and elected GOP Rep. Kent Williams as the speaker of the House, denying the job to Republican leader Jason Mumpower. He was so humiliated he's retiring from the House this year. House GOP members had taken a pledge then to vote for a Republican for speaker. Williams said he didn't break his pledge. He did vote for a Republican—himself. This time, the GOP is asking even candidates to sign pledges, and this time they must promise to vote for the GOP nominee.

Scotty Campbell, a former aide to Williams who is one of six Republicans running for Mumpower's seat, says he will refuse to sign the pledge. "I am a rubber stamp for my constituents, not for people in Nashville or Memphis or Washington, D.C.," Campbell tells Humphrey.

Update: Williams, who hopes to remain as speaker in the next general assembly, is urging all GOP candidates to refuse to sign the pledge. "I would recommend that any candidate not sign any pledge because it could come back to bite you," he tells Pith. "Things can change. A state party or caucus should have no say-so in how an office-holder votes on any issue. The only people who should have a say-so are your constituents back home. I take care of my constituents first."

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