From Democrat Gary Odom, here are more details
of the plot that foiled Republican hopes in the House this week. Turns out, Democrats have Ray Blanton to thank in a way. Back over the Thanksgiving weekend, when Odom met Kent Williams at Dino's restaurant in Elizabethton to broach the subject:
Odom was also aware of another factor in Williams' psyche that might cause him to risk his party's rancor. Williams had told Odom that when he was 23 and newly married and starting a family he had found a good job with the Tennessee Department of Transportation. As a Republican, Williams was marked by then Gov. Ray Blanton for removal, not because of job performance but for political reasons.
"I knew as a result of that experience that he had a sick feeling in his stomach for all the career people, researchers and legal professionals, who would be losing their jobs when Jason Mumpower took over as speaker. Some of those people had been in those jobs for over 20 or 30 years.
"I think some of that played into his thinking," Odom said. As he would say in his nominating speech, he believed Williams' political philosophy was "putting people above politics."
And what did Odom say when he popped the question? "Kent, if you vote for yourself as speaker, I think I can deliver 49 Democratic votes."