House Speaker Beth Harwell's Difficult Choice

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey has staked out a position that puts him in line with the Tea Party and in direct confrontation with Gov. Bill Haslam. House Speaker Beth Harwell, in an effort to pass Haslam's education bills, has found herself under attack as not being sufficiently conservative. The Tea Party objected to Harwell as speaker to begin with, calling her a RINO (Republican in Name Only).

Ramsey's Senate has passed a bill outlawing collective bargaining by teachers. The House version restricts issues that can be bargained but doesn't ban it altogether. Ramsey sent out an e-mail calling on conservatives to back him in the power play. The Tea Party is sending out a list of House members "waffling" on Ramsey's position, including the speaker on the list.

Harwell is being put in the position of supporting her Republican governor and friend or supporting the Tea Party agenda. This is likely only the first of such disagreements.

Ramsey, who lost to Haslam in the primary, is positioning himself as the conservative's conservative.