NASHVILLE — Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission Chairman William “Chink” Brown’s Senate confirmation vote for a new term on the panel may be dead in the water, according to lawmakers.
Freshman Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, on Thursday “bumped” the confirmation of Brown, a Signal Mountain attorney and former judge, from a consent calendar.
The consent calendar is list of usually noncontroversial bills and resolutions that are passed en masse on any given day on the Senate floor. Other nominees to the Fish and Wildlife Commission were confirmed.
But Brown’s nomination was re-referred to the Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Senators say at least five of the nine-member committee won’t vote to send Brown’s nomination back to the Senate floor.
Efforts to reach Brown, whose panel oversees the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency that deals with hunting and conservation, were unsuccessful Thursday night.
At least part of the opposition appears to come from residual resentment by some lawmakers over a two-year battle they fought with the TWRA and the-then Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission, which oversaw the agency.
Brown was chairman of the commission during the fight. The commission eventually was renamed and other changes made.
Gardenhire, elected to the Senate last fall after the flap, said Thursday evening he had warned a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency official, which the commission oversees, over a week ago that he wouldn’t be voting for Brown “but I wouldn’t do anything to cause attention to it.”
Gardenhire declined to specify why he wouldn’t vote for Brown.
“I could, but I’m not,” he said.
He said that while the lawmakers’ fight with the commission “was before my time. ... I have become a vehicle, and that’s fine with me.”
He said when Brown’s nomination came before the Senate Energy panel, “I politely got up and left the committee. Didn’t say anything. In the meantime, several people obviously noticed that and several senators called and expressed some things to me.”
Asked if the committee will send Brown’s nomination back to the Senate floor, Gardenhire said no. Asked why, the lawmaker said, “There’s five or more votes against it. That’s why it won’t be make it through.”
Another senator privately confirmed that, saying the agency and the commission under Brown had angered a block of lawmakers and various groups of hunters and commercial fishermen.
Brown, a Democrat, was renominated by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.
Gardenhire said he warned an administration official last weekend that Brown’s confirmation was in danger but no one got back with him to discuss it.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...