Eastern Power Bloc

History is about to be made in Tennessee politics. For the first time in the state's long and storied existence, the governor and speaker of the House in the General Assembly will be from Knox County. Add to that the fact that the lieutenant governor and speaker of the Senate in the state Legislature, Ron Ramsey, is also from East Tennessee and you have the most dramatic power shift that has occurred in recent memory from West to Middle to East in our Volunteer State.

Despite the drumbeat from whoever is editing Ear to the Ground, predicting that the Republicans will lose their one-vote 50-49 majority in the state House, most astute observers agree that the GOP will have at least 54 seats in January. One bellwether district is the 10th, where Democrat John Litz of Morristown, the self-styled leader of the coup that elected a RINO as speaker last year, was eviscerated in his attempt to become Hamblen County mayor, losing by a two-to-one margin in a Republican landslide, a harbinger of what is to come in November. Litz's successor will undoubtedly be a real Republican.

This scene will be repeated across the state, leading to the election of our own Harry Brooks of Corryton as speaker. Knox County will have more political power than at any other time in Tennessee history once he is sworn in, along with Gov. Bill Haslam. Hopefully, Brooks will run the House as it was run when the Democrats were in control, giving all the chairmanships to the GOP, meaning that even more East Tennesseans will have a larger, louder, and stronger voice in Nashville. After all, that's only fair, since elections have consequences.

Moreover, Republicans will make their majority permanent in the redistricting that will take place following this year's 2010 census, so that they will reshape all 99 state House districts, all 33 state Senate districts, and all nine Congressional districts to insure that the GOP will run state government for the next decade and, most likely, the next generation. The power of the pen will relegate Democrats to a permanent minority in Tennessee. Look for many veteran lawmakers in that party to announce retirements soon thereafter. Many won't make it past their current term of office.

This sea change in politics is a dramatic shift that foretells what will happen nationally. Tennessee is again leading the way in a huge Republican landslide that will stop the Obama agenda in its tracks, retake both Houses of Congress, and elect a Republican president in 2012. The East Tennessee Grand Division of the Volunteer State, which produced Gov. Sam Houston, Congressman Davy Crockett, and President Andrew Johnson, is again showing the way in politics to America.

Mark Hancock