The Minority Leader in the state House of Delegates says five votes could be the difference between a new House Speaker who is a Democrat and a new House Speaker who is a Republican.
Kanawha County Delegate Tim Armstead says Republicans may be able to find those votes, to add to the votes from the 46 Republicans in the House, before a new Speaker is selected next month.
“There are a number of Democrats who have not been entirely satisfied with the direction the state’s been going and they’ve not been satisfied with the leadership they’ve had, not just in the House, but on a statewide level,” said Minority Leader Tim Armstead.
He says he is hoping he gets the backing of the Republican caucus to be Speaker and, after that, the full House of Delegates.
“We are going to invite like-minded Democrats to join with us, and a lot of that is going to depend, obviously, on what takes place in the Democrat caucus and who comes out of that caucus as the candidate.”
Current House Speaker Rick Thompson’s resignation will take effect on June 15th. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin will then have ten days to call a Special Session so a new House Speaker can be selected.
Because Democrats have more members in the House, the new Speaker will likely be chosen in the Democrat caucus before a vote is taken on the House floor.
Several Democrats in the House are now working to line up enough support to move into the Speaker’s role including House Majority Leader Brent Boggs, House Finance Committee Chairman Harry Keith White, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Tim Miley and Kanawha County Delegate Doug Skaff.
House Majority Whip Mike Caputo says his name should also be on the list.
“I think I carry as large of a block of supporters as any of the candidates who’s announced to this point,” Delegate Caputo from Marion County said on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
“They’re all good candidates and I won’t say a bad thing about any of them. I think they all have great leadership capabilities.”
He says Democrats should make the Speaker decision and not leave it up to Republicans. “What I would like to see, regardless of who it is, whether it’s me or any of the other potential candidates, I’d like to see a consensus candidate,” Caputo said.
After seven years as Speaker, Thompson is leaving the House to take over as Secretary of the state Department of Veterans Assistance.