CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Fair. Open. Moderate. That’s how new House of Delegates Speaker Tim Miley described himself in the moments after his selection as the 56th speaker in the history of the state.
Miley, D-Harrison, was elected Tuesday afternoon on a 53-44 near partisan vote to replace former speaker Rick Thompson who recently took a cabinet-level position in the Tomblin administration.
Miley says the way he operated the House Judiciary Committee as its chairman is the way he hopes to operate the House.
“I think I’ve earned the respect of people who have observed how I manage and run the judiciary committee,” Miley said. “I don’t think I’ve ever necessarily instilled my views on anything we’ve done up there, rather I’ve tried to seek consensus from the body of members of that 25-member committee.”
The criticism of Miley, though, came almost immediately after his selection.
“It’s no surprise that the incumbent liberal politicians truly chose one of their own to run the House,” said West Virginia Republican Chairman Conrad Lucas.
“Delegate Miley is right out of central casting for the left. In spite of all the progress this state has made in tort reform, worker’s compensation fixes and conservative judges on the Supreme Court, the Democrats in Charleston clearly don’t understand what can repair our broken economy.”
Greg Thomas, executive director of West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, said it’s “unfortunate” that the House chose Miley. “Delegate Miley has voted against many of the positive legal reforms passed by the House in recent years,” said Thomas.
Miley, who was first elected to the House in 2004, seemed to take the criticism in stride Tuesday.
“Like with most elected positions that anyone holds you’re going to be subject to criticism,” he said. “I’m happy to put my record of openness and moderation and deliberative thought that I’ve given to any piece of legislation to anyone that wants to see it.”
Miley was described as “fair” being a “good guy” and having “a steady hand” during three nominating speeches. He described his election as “an incredible moment.”
Just a few short months ago Miley was considering a run for the state Senate having been passed over by Gov. Tomblin when a seat opened up in Harrison County earlier this year. But now he finds himself in charge of the 100-member House. He said during his acceptance speech the state needs to continue to focus on education, infrastructure and its natural resources.
When speaking with reporters afterward, Miley again said he’s made no promises to delegates on who will get the key leadership positions but did say, “I don’t expect any significant changes.”
Miley mother and father, who will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary Saturday, attended Tuesday’s floor session along with a few dozen family, friends and supporters.
Delegate Ryan Ferns, D-Ohio, was the only Democrat, other than Miley himself, to vote against Miley. He said he did so in protest of the way labor tried to pressure delegates to vote for Miley. Ferns tweeted he voted his state not his party.
Three delegates were absent for Tuesday’s floor session, Troy Andes (Putnam), Ron Walters (Kanawha) and Amanda Pasdon (Monongalia), all Republicans.