Much media attention has been focused on what has often seemed an undeclared power struggle between Governor Bill Haslam and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, the Senate Speaker who has differed with the governor on numerous issues — including collective bargaining for teachers, with Ramsey apparently on his way to achieving his goal of outright abolition.
Ramsey, a Haslam opponent in last year’s Republican gubernatorial primary, has disclaimed an interest in challenging Haslam again in 2012 — perhaps because, as Tennessee Conservative Union head Lloyd Daughterty recently opined, the position of lieutenant governor is arguably “just as powerful if not more powerful.” As Daughterty argued, "Governors are going to come and go, but there's no term limits on the speaker, the lieutenant governor."
It was Haslam's view that prevailed, however, not Ramsey's, when the state Republican committee voted last weekend in Nashville not to require party registration for participation in GOP primaries. Among those resisting closed primaries was Memphian John Ryder, who said "inclusiveness" is just what has allowed the state GOP to grow.