CHARLESTON — It didn’t have the white smoke of a pope election, but Republicans in the West Virginia legislature voted on Sunday to reaffirm Senate Speaker Craig Blair and House Speaker Roger Hanshaw as leaders for another two years. Did.
Newly elected state Senate and House Republican caucuses will meet the day before the interim session of Congress begins in December to select candidates for Senate and House Speakers for the first session of the 86th Congress, which begins Wednesday. They met behind closed doors on Sunday afternoon. January 11th.
Blair, R. Barkley, and the Senate Republican Caucus were re-elected as Senate Speaker on Sunday without opposition. Hanshaw (R-Clay) faces a challenge from House Organizing Committee Chairman Brandon Steele (R-Lowry).
Always very humble. It’s humbling when a member asks you to continue the work you’ve been doing. Hanshaw said Sunday night. “We have a lot to be proud of. We have moved this state an incredible distance in a short amount of time. , and look forward to continuing the same for two more years.”
The House Republican caucuses began at 3:00 p.m. and lasted nearly two hours. Both Hanshaw and Steele claimed that members questioned each candidate, according to sources who declined to be identified due to the privacy of the caucus setting. received 53 votes and Steele 30. Steele was not available for comment.
Mr. Steele, an attorney and owner of the online news aggregator website, announced on August 8 that he intends to challenge Mr. Hanshaw for the speaker’s gavel. Steele was elected to the House for the first time in his 2018 election and was elected unopposed in November’s election to the new 42nd House District.
In challenging Hanshaw, Steele cited slow progress in a special summer session on tax reform and delays in legislation to modernize the state’s anti-abortion laws. Republicans in the House and Senate eventually came to a compromise on a bill that would limit access to abortion with limited exceptions, but with an offer from Gov. Jim Justice to cut personal income taxes by 10 percent. Bills that passed the House were never taken up by the Senate.
Hanshaw was elected by the House of Representatives in 2018 to replace former Speaker Tim Armstead, who was nominated by a West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals judge. Hanshaw was elected to complete his two-year term in 2019 and his 2021. Hanshaw, an attorney for Bowles-Rice, a Democratic-majority congressman, was a former staff attorney for the Senate Republican Caucus prior to 2014. He was first elected to the House of Representatives. in 2014.
After the caucuses ended Sunday night, Blair said he was honored to be backed by 31 of the House’s 34-member Senate Republicans.
“I never really thought I didn’t have it.” He said. “To be removed from office as Senate Speaker, I would have had to do something outrageous. I did.”
Senator Patricia Rucker (R-Jefferson) announced on her personal website on November 22 that she would no longer challenge Blair for the gavel, citing a collapse in support.
Blair has been president of the Senate since 2021, after former Senate Speaker and Jackson County Republican Mitch Carmichael lost the primary to current Senate Education Committee Chairman Amy Grady (R-Mason). inherited. Blair was first elected to the Senate in 2013 and served three terms. He is the former chairman of the Senate Committee on Government Organization and Finance.
As President of the Senate, Blair will be the next heir if Governor Jim Justice becomes incapacitated, giving Blair the honorary title of Lieutenant Governor.
Sunday’s vote is provisional. Official votes for Senate and House Speakers will take place on the first day of his new 60-day legislative session, which takes place in odd-numbered years after the election. Both parties nominate members for the Speaker of the Senate and Speaker of the House, with the nominee of the party with the most members gaining top leadership positions.
Also on Sunday afternoon, the House Democratic caucuses re-elected Rep. Doug Skaff (D-Kanawha) as the House Minority Leader. Skaff’s minority shrank from 22 of 100 seats to his 12 seats after the November election, but his caucuses continued to push priorities and oppose legislation that the majority considered harmful. said to do.
“I am honored that my peers have asked me to return to my minority leadership position.” Skaff said. “Our numbers may have dropped a bit, but we are honored that there are still voices that need to be represented. are all being ruined by this majority-led state. I will do everything in my power to make it possible.”
Rep. Sean Fulherty (D-Ohio) will once again serve as the minority whip in the House.
“The numbers are down now, but in November, when all four[constitutional]amendments were rejected, they also sent a message that the policies they pursue were not very popular with the public. ” Fulherty said. “We have an obligation and an obligation to be their voice and speak out on things because given the numbers they have there is nothing stopping them. Yes, we have to be a voice for the people of West Virginia.”
The Senate Democratic caucus fell from 11 seats to four after the November election and fell from four to three last week when Putnam County Senator Glenn Jeffries switched from Democrat to Republican. decreased. The remaining Democrats are Senate Minority Whip Michael Werfel (D-Cabell) and State Senators Robert Primel (D-Wayne) and Mike Caputo (D-Marion).
Steven Allen Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.