Vote delayed to change nomination process for U.S. senators

Vote delayed to change nomination process for U.S. senators

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"It's just absurd to even be thinking about it at this time," Knox County Democratic Party Vice Chair Doug Veum said. "It's just absurd to even be thinking about it at this time," Knox County Democratic Party Vice Chair Doug Veum said.
"I think ultimately if this bill does go through, people will feel like they have less of an impact over who is in Washington," said Alex Roehl, president of the Knox County Young Republicans Club. "I think ultimately if this bill does go through, people will feel like they have less of an impact over who is in Washington," said Alex Roehl, president of the Knox County Young Republicans Club.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Tennessee Senate was set to vote on a bill that would change the way U.S. senators are nominated in Tennessee, but that vote has been delayed.

The proposed bill would eliminate primaries for U.S. senators and instead allow members of both parties in the state legislature to determine their party's pick.

The candidates would then face off in the general election.

The sponsor of a bill, State Sen. Frank Niceley (R, Strawberry Plains), decided Monday to put the measure on hold until the last floor session of the year.

Nicely told his Republican colleagues that the proposal has already accomplished what he desired, which was to draw attention of how senators are selected.

State Democrats have said they want to continue selecting senators in primaries.

The process Nicely is proposing is closely aligned with a system used in Tennessee before 1913, when lawmakers directly appointed U.S. senators. That's when the U.S. Constitution's 17th Amendment ended legislatures' power to directly appoint them.

"It's been 100 years. We've tried it and it's not really working," Nicely said before deciding to put the bill on hold. "This bill would not take away your right to vote for a U.S. senator. This only changes the way we nominate them."

The Senate Local Government Committee passed the bill last week in a 7-1 vote.

"It's just absurd to even be thinking about it at this time," Knox County Democratic Party Vice Chair Doug Veum said. "If you're going to hold those senators accountable, they need to be held accountable by the people they represent, not by the senators in the Tennessee Legislature."

Even some fellow Republicans are mixed on their views on the bill.

Alex Roehl, president of the Knox County Young Republicans Club, said while he supports considering revisions to the nomination process for U.S. Senators, he doesn't believe eliminating primaries is in the best interest of voters.

"I think ultimately if this bill does go through, people will feel like they have less of an impact over who is in Washington," Roehl said.

A spokesperson for Sen. Bob Corker said he is declining to comment on the bill at this time.

Sen. Lamar Alexander's communications director, Jim Jeffries, said the senator's "main focus right now is on working with Congress to tackle out-of-control spending and fix the debt."

Jeffries did not indicate whether Alexander supports the proposed bill.

Ruthie Kuhlman, chair of the Knox County Republican Party, said the group has not taken a position on Nicely's bill.

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