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Casada Looking to Jump Back into House GOP Leadership Role

by Andrea Zelinski on August 27, 2012

Rep. Glen Casada says if he learned anything from his GOP leadership successor Rep. Debra Maggart, it’s to take nothing for granted.

Casada is considering a move to reclaim his seat as the House Republican Caucus chairman and replace Maggart following her fiery primary election defeat fueled by Second Amendment advocates who disapproved of her role in blocking a key gun bill.

“Being in leadership is very time-consuming, and if you’re not careful, it can overwhelm you with your responsibilities for the caucus,” Casada told TNReport in a recent interview.

“You can maybe put your district in second place — and just enough where it can cost you an election. I’m not saying that’s what happened to Debra, but it’s something you’ve got to be mindful of,” he said.

The Franklin Republican, who left the chairman’s post to run a failed bid  for speaker in 2010, brings to the caucus a conservative voice at a time when the gun-rights lobby is showing off its political strength. The GOP caucus lost seven incumbents including Maggart in this month’s primary election. Two others squeaked by,winning with margins as tight as four votes.

Casada is generally regarded as more in tune with House conservatives than Speaker Beth Harwell, who edged out Casada to win the gavel two years ago. Harwell typically works hand-in-glove with Gov. Bill Haslam, both of whom are centrists who’ve been criticized at times by party conservatives for being more attentive to big business interests than grassroots concerns.

However, Casada is himself loathe to criticize Harwell. The chief reason he’s uninterested in trying to make a grab at the speaker’s gavel again this year is that “Beth has done a good job,” he said.

“Things are well. We’re cutting taxes. Government’s small. Things are going well in the state of Tennessee so I see no reason to switch at this stage,” Casada said.

House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny, on the other hand, isn’t so happy with the status quo. The conservative Tullahoma Republican is mulling a run for speaker. Matheney told The Associated Press earlier this month that as a result of his conservative politics he feels he’s “purposefully been put in a box” by the caucus higher-ups.

For his part, Casada says House leadership has never made him feel like that. He said he feels he would “add to, not conflict with, the leadership team” of Harwell and GOP Leader Gerald McCormick, who says he expects Casada would fit naturally back into a leadership role, if he pursues the seat.

“We heal our wounds very quickly in the Republican Party and in our caucus, and I think you’ll see us come together again,” McCormick told TNReport. “I don’t sense any tensions there, and I think Glen and Beth will work really well together and be part of a good team if he choses to run for caucus chairman or another position and wins. I don’t think there would be any problem at all.”

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