The Republican majority will huddle next weekend to pick leaders for the chamber AND for their caucus. Since they are a majority in the General Assembly’s lower chamber, the Republican picks will be quite the big dogs in the upcoming sessions. The candidates to replace Thom Tillis on the speaker’s dais have been bandied about cyberspace and the drive-by media. Thanks to some really-inside sources, we have a comprehensive roster of the candidates being considered by the GOP caucus next weekend. (Of course, we’re going to offer up our opinions / analysis on the candidates. That is, after all, what you pay the big bucks for on this site.)
Let’s get started:
Speaker of the House
Our Take: Conventional wisdom says Daughtry and Moore are in a nip-and-tuck dogfight for the top job. But remember, politicians lie — NOT JUST TO US — but also to each other. You frequently get individual legislators promising their support to multiple candidates for the same office. The best bet for conservatives would be Guilford’s John Blust. He is a super-smart guy — a lawyer AND a CPA. Blust and John Rhodes were at the forefront of the opposition to House Speaker Jim Black and co-speaker Richard Morgan. Insiders tell me Blust is well-liked, but has one big strike against him. He is really big on FAIRNESS. Blust is all about transparency, openness, and civility to all members. Basically, let everybody be heard. Most legislators want that stuff when they are in the minority, but forget all about it when they get into the majority.
Speaker Pro – Tem
Stam, Paul “Skip”
Our Take: This is pretty much a meaningless job. (Don’t believe me? Ask Dale Folwell.) Julia Howard was one of the ringleaders of the group that defected to allow Jim Black and Richard Morgan’s reign of terror to commence. She should NEVER get any kind of reward, as a result of that treachery. Stam is way too comfortable with the folks on the other side of the aisle. Once you get past the pro-life issue, he starts sliding to the port side of the ideological scale. Sarah Stevens doesn’t exactly light our fires, but she is a helluva lot better than the other two.
House Majority Leader
Dixon, James “Jimmy”
Our Take: This is the field general for the majority party. You command the troops during battle on the floor. For conservatives, the best choices would be Bert Jones or Mike Hager. You may remember Hager for trying to repeal the alternative energy mandates, but then being thwarted by speaker Tillis. Given his representation of Moore County, we are familiar with Jamie Boles. Much of his work on Jones Street has focused on legislation benefiting the funeral industry. (He is a funeral director.) He got some bad publicity last year from local drive-bys for some really sketchy, throwing-political-weight-around tactics in a local rezoning case. During his first term (2008-2010), local conservatives had to spend a lot of time knocking sense into him on basic conservative positions. Boles’s voting record has turned a little to the right recently. So, he’d make an OK consolation prize for conservatives.
Deputy Majority Leader
Republican Conference Leader
Our Take: This appears to be pay-back for three of Thom Tillis’s most loyal soldiers. We wrote earlier about Brown’s really bizarre campaign accounting practices. THAT information would make me very wary about putting him in charge of anything important. It sure would be nice to have more than one candidate for consideration for each office here.
Joint Caucus Leader
Our Take: We’ve got two rather unremarkable moderates here. (Both earned C’s for 2013 from Civitas.) Another choice would be nice.