House of Delegates member Tim Miley has a problem.
No, it’s not his campaign to become the next Speaker of the House. That’s moving along nicely for the Harrison County Democrat.
Miley says he has 37 votes, and even if a few of those are wobbly, he still has a safe cushion above the 28 necessary to win election in the Democratic caucus later this month.
But it will never come to an election.
Mingo County Delegate and fellow Speaker candidate Harry Keith White can also count. Even if he thinks Miley’s totals are high, White knows the next rational step for him is to see what he can get for himself and his supporters for bowing out of the race.
Certainly that must have been part of the discussion when White and Miley got together last night in Charleston.
No, Miley’s problem now is figuring out how to keep the other 53 Democrats in the House happy.
Miley swears–and others back-up the claim–that he made no promises to any of his supporters. It’s a solid strategy, if you can stick to it. There are few secrets under the Capitol Dome, so the moment Miley promised a leadership position to one delegate, four others who believe they are entitled to the job would be mad at him.
So Miley stayed out of the commitment business, but as Speaker he will have to decide who goes where in the House. Many of the delegates have strong feelings about where they should be in the pecking order.
White, as the current chair of the House Finance Committee, will want to stay in a leadership position, even though he’s on the losing side of the Speaker’s race. Miley might be inclined to keep White, a conservative banker, in the upper echelon just so his lineup doesn’t tilt too far to the labor side.
However, that may not sit well with some members of his leadership team, such as Majority Leader Brent Boggs and Majority Whip Mike Caputo, who know that White would have replaced them had he prevailed.
After the Finance Committee, the next most powerful committee is Judiciary. Miley is now the Judiciary Chairman so his ascendancy to Speaker will open that position. Marion County’s Tim Manchin is the committee Vice-Chair and he would seem to be in line for the Chairmanship, but again, Miley says he’s made no promises.
Miley is not a scorched earth guy. He has no intention of relegating opponents from the Speaker’s race to the back bench. Meanwhile, there’s no way to make all those who support Miley believe they have been given their due.
But leadership isn’t about making sure everyone likes you. As former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said, “The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.”
That means Miley has some hard decisions ahead.