Clay County Delegate, Roger Hanshaw, was the lead sponsor of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2016. He has now become the next Speaker of the House of Delegates for the remainder of this session until January.
The rare mid-session change in Speaker was necessary after Speaker Tim Armstead resigned last week and was appointed to the Supreme Court of West Virginia.
Do you know who your House Delegate voted for and why?
Normally these leadership selections happen only every two years in January, after a general election changes the makeup of the legislature. Each political party gathers privately and has an internal caucus vote via blind ballot. Then the nominated representative from each party is presented to the whole House of Delegates to formally elect the Speaker. He or she then presides over the lawmaking activities of the lower house.
But the Republican caucus vote was very close at 32-30. The Republicans all united on the House floor however to far out vote the Democrat’s nominee. But in January there will be another vote for Speaker for the next legislative session. A number of seats will change hands in November, so the same outcome is not guaranteed. Some of the house members who voted today, lost their primary races last spring and will not be re-elected.
Kanawha County Delegate Eric Nelson lost by only two votes in caucus so that demonstrates the Republican-controlled house is split right down the middle on the best person and therefore the best strategic approach, to move West Virginia forward.
Murray Energy and other large business interests backed Nelson, while small business backers, social conservatives and libertarian-minded delegates in the Republican caucus, voted for Hanshaw. The Family Policy Council endorsed Hanshaw.
Do you know who your House Delegate voted for and why? Ask them here:
Allen Whitt, President of the Family Policy Council congratulated Speaker Hanshaw, “We are very glad to see a man of faith continue to lead the House. But the close vote shows that now the November House of Delegates races mean a lot more than they did yesterday. Just two seat losses that were votes for Speaker Hanshaw or two newly elected delegates that choose Delegate Nelson in January, could elect a different Speaker of the House. Before casting a vote for anybody in a West Virginia State House race in November, I’d ask them who their first vote will be cast for. The Speaker sets the whole agenda and that first vote from a delegate will likely be the most important vote they ever take!”
Also Speaker Hanshaw only won his district seat by less than 1% in the last election. If his November race catches any of the forecasted “blue wave” then the race for Speaker of the House in January, would change dynamically without Hanshaw. West Virginia politics continue to be volatile.
So stay tuned to this Family Policy Council site for updates and endorsement lists before November 6.