NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s embattled House speaker said Tuesday that he plans to resign from his leadership post following a vote of no confidence by his Republican caucus amid a scandal over explicit text messages.
The move is unprecedented in Tennessee’s modern political era. The last speaker resignation came in 1931 in the Senate.
Speaker Glen Casada announced the decision just a day after previously shrugging off a 45-24 secret ballot vote from his GOP caucus determining they no longer had confidence in his ability to lead the Tennessee House. Casada said he would work to regain his colleagues’ trust.
The resignation announcement marked a quick, turbulent downfall for Casada, who has spent only a few months in the House’s top position.
The lawmaker from Franklin first stepped into the key role in January, eight years after he lost a bid for the position. In the November election, the then-majority leader received 47 out of 73 votes from Republicans in the 99-member chamber, defeating Reps. Curtis Johnson of Clarksville and David Hawk of Greeneville.
Casada began to lose support when his former chief of staff, Cade Cothren, was pressured into resigning after the release of years-old racist texts and the sexually explicit messages, and Cothren’s admission that he used cocaine in his legislative office years before becoming Casada’s top aide. Casada was included in one of the group texts with a racist message, but has said he never saw it.
Another scandal that sparked early doubts was the report that Cothren may have tampered with evidence in a young black activist’s criminal case, which a special prosecutor is still investigating.