State Senate Democratic leader Jim Kyle has dispatched a letter to members of official Democratic Party organizations and to Democratic elected officials, statewide, attacking State Senator Rosalind Kurita (D-Clarksville) in no uncertain terms.
The Kyle letter -- dated Monday, February 5 -- takes Kurita to task for her vote last month establishing Republican Ron Ramsey as Senate Speaker, the first Republican since Reconstruction to hold that position as well as the title of Lieutenant Governor.
Kyle argues that the position of Tennessee Democrats has suffered unfairly and disproportionately as a result of Kurita's action and beseeches his fellow Democrats to "hold her accountable for her actions."
The letter reads as follows:
Today I write to you not as the Senate Democratic Leader, but rather as a fellow Democrat that feels the need to communicate to you the facts regarding Senator Kuritas recent vote for Senate Speaker, which ultimately tipped the scales to elect Republican Ron Ramsey. I know she will be communicating with you in the future and may even ask to come speak to you and I simply wanted you to have this information, so you may digest and use it as you see fit.
Since her vote, Senator Kurita has only communicated with Democrats through the media. She has told our citizens a tale of how she will bring both sides of the aisle together in a bipartisan way to better the Senate and the state. Kuritas remarks from January 11th Chattanoogan article state, I voted Tuesday for a genuinely bipartisan Senate that will provide clear direction and be held accountable to the voters of this state.
Two years ago, when Senators Mike Williams and Tim Burchett voted for John Wilder, the Republicans were appointed four chairmanships by then Lt. Governor John Wilder, but when Kurita split ranks in an attempt to create her bipartisan Senate, the Democrats were appointed only two chairmanships.
I told her that I would be fair to the Democrats to prevent the same kind of slash-and-burn atmosphere that we see in Washington D.C. right now Senator Ron Ramsey told The Associated Press. However, every Republican, with the exception of one, got the maximum number of committee appointments while the maximum number of Senate Democrats were appointed the minimum. Of the 85 committee positions available, Republicans, along with Kurita, received 50 of those positions, leaving only 33 slots for the Democrats, in a Senate that holds only a one-vote majority by the Republicans.
The Governor made a statement to The City Paper on January 17th saying, Senator Kurita said she voted her conscience, and I accept that. I presume if that is the case, shes not going to take some reward out of that vote. She did in fact accept a reward that has cost some long-time state employees their jobs in order to make room for partisan Republican staff.
The blunt truth of the matter is that Senator Kurita lied to me and she lied to her fellow Democrats. For months, Senator Kurita told me and John Wilder she was going to vote for Wilder for Speaker. She never told any Democrat of her decision to change her vote. She blindsided the very Senators who supported her and compromised the ability of Senate Democrats to have their voice heard. This is not about who sits in the Speakers chair, this is about trust, confidence and moral character. Im sure Senator Kurita believes people will soon forget what she did and will not hold her accountable for her actions. I hope you help prove her wrong.