Beth Harwell expected to be TN's first female House speaker

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Rep. Beth Harwell will soon make history.

The Nashville Republican is expected to be elected the state's first female speaker by the full membership of the House when the 107th Tennessee General Assembly convenes on Tuesday.

Her election is almost certain given the GOP's 64-34 advantage, state party bylaws that allow for the expulsion of Republican members who don't support the nominee and the fact that Democrats have said they don't plan to nominate anyone from their party.

Harwell, 53, is a former political science professor at Belmont University and holds a doctorate in social science education from Vanderbilt University. She was first elected to the House in 1988, and was chairwoman of the Republican Party from 2001 to 2004. She considered a run for governor in 2006.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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