Find out more →

Get unlimited access. Become a digital member!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Rep. Jeremy Gillam, elected Speaker-designate with Democratic support, strikes moderate tone

Posted By on Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 5:01 PM

click to enlarge GILLAM: "I had lots of conversations with members of both sides of the aisle, and was very grateful that I received the support I did from the Democratic caucus as well."
  • GILLAM: "I had lots of conversations with members of both sides of the aisle, and was very grateful that I received the support I did from the Democratic caucus as well."

Rep. Jeremy Gillam
(R-Judsonia) was elected the new Speaker-designate of the Arkansas House this afternoon, winning with 57 votes. Rep. Matthew Shepherd (R-El Dorado) got 21 votes, Rep. Fred Love (D-Little Rock)  got 15, and Rep. Kim Hammer (R-Benton) got 5.

Democrats I spoke with said that the caucus was split about whether they should give Love a symbolic show of support on the first vote or whether they should choose which of the three Republicans running would be most palatable and lend their support to that candidate. There was also a split among Democrats about which Republican to support, Gillam or Shepherd, both considered politically middle-of-the-road-Republican and relatively easy to work with. In the end, the caucus decided not to vote as a block; some voted for Shepherd, some for Love, and some for Gillam. 

Gillam praised outgoing Speaker Davy Carter, with whom he shares a back-slapping disposition and moderate (by Arkansas Republican standards) politics. “Speaker Carter has left some pretty big shoes to fill,” Gillam said. “I’m going to be in lots of conversations with him as well as the previous speakers. I was very fortunate to have Speaker Moore as speaker in my first term, and he and I have a great relationship.”

I asked Gillam about whether he had reached out to Democrats to grab some of their support. He had a pretty good ready-made answer: “The way I looked at it is I was reaching out to my colleagues, regardless of what caucus that they were a part of, and was trying to appeal to a shared vision of how we were going to operate going forward. But yes, I had lots of conversations with members of both sides of the aisle, and was very grateful that I received the support I did from the Democratic caucus as well.” Bipartisanship!

Gillam was a supporter of the private option and I asked him about the future of the policy (Carter was an aggressive advocate for the policy as Speaker, which narrowly survived two dragout fights in the House). Here’s Gillam:

I think right now our focus needs to be on monitoring the implementation of the program as we continue to move forward. Of course it’s still new. Seeing what’s working, what’s not working and making sure that the members are well informed with what we’re seeing data-wise coming out of it. And making sure that we’re all on board moving in to the next session on what needs to be done, and I’m confident that we’re going to be able to do that. 

Given recent history, might the new membership vote in someone else as Speaker in Janurary?

I believe that if we remain in our status in the majority, I believe the membership is going to rally behind me and move forward in to the session. I feel very confident that’s going to take place.

And what if the Democrats take back the House? 

As we’re planning and moving forward we’re going to do so in a way that we’re incorporating members of the Democratic caucus so that if that was to occur — which I believe it’s not going to — but if it was to occur, the transition would be able to handled very smoothly and responsibly, which is what the citizens of Arkansas expect out of us. 

Asked whether he had a Democrat in mind he might support for Speaker in that event, Gillam said that it would be up to the Democratic caucus to weigh in and declined to comment further. It is rumored that Rep. Tommy Wren helped to gather support for Gillam in this race in return for support for a run by Wren should the Democrats end up taking control. 

On committee assignments, Gillam said he would “do it much in the same fashion that Speaker Carter did. I believe that proportionate representation in the House is a key component in the way that we need to operate and so I don’t see many deviations on that in the current moment.” Gillam said he had made no promises on committee assignments thus far.

Shepherd said that he would not run again in January. "My view is that Rep. Gillam is the Speaker, and I congratulate him and I look forward to working with him. I anticipate that we will hold on to the House and that Rep. Gillam will be the speaker when we come back in January."

I asked Shepherd about a scenario like the last-minute run by Carter last year. "I expect Republicans to unite [behind one Speaker candidate] and move forward and do the people's business," he said. 

Carter himself said that he thought that his surprise ascension in 2013 was "a one-time deal—whether that repeats itself, that’s only speculation.”

House Minority Leader Greg Leding said that "we look forward to doing what we can to work with Speaker-designate Gillam in the interim but I would remind everybody that there is still an election on Nov. 4 and the House is closely divided. We saw in the last [Speaker-designate] election, it didn't necessarily matter who won." Leding said that down the road, the House might want to consider moving the Speaker-designate vote until after the election. 

Leding said that all four candidates spoke to the Democratic caucus. "We had a meeting this morning to talk about that and members voted the way they voted," he said. Leding declined to comment on who he voted for. 

Leding said that the caucus has not yet had serious discussions about who might run for Speaker if they do win back the House. If the Republicans retain control, Leding said that he did not foresee another situation like the Carter run in which Democrats rallied behind a Republican other than the presumed choice. "If Republicans maintain the majority, I would expect that Speaker-designate Gillam would become Speaker Gillam," he said

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Speaking of...

  • Faith and facts: Tax-cutting and Obamacare

    July 14, 2014
    Arkansas political campaigns this year, from the Republican side, are all about the beauty of tax cuts and the horrors of Obamacare. You have to ignore some inconvenient facts to accept the sales pitches. /more/
  • Tom Cotton: Too extreme even for reddening Arkansas

    July 7, 2014
    New video from the Mark Pryor campaign underscores the potential local impact of Republican Rep. Tom Cotton's multiple votes against disaster aid funding, /more/
  • Statewide alcohol vote and minimum wage petitions filed

    July 7, 2014
    Petitions for statewide votes on state alcohol sales and an increase in the minimum wage were filed Monday with the Arkansas secretary of state. Medical marijuana initiatives won't make the ballot, backers have said. /more/
  • Five carriers will sell policies on Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace in 2015; all expected to sell statewide

    July 2, 2014
    The Arkansas Insurance Department today announced that five companies plan to sell health insurance plans on the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace in 2015, the second year for the regulated marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act. The issuers that have filed are Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, the national multi-state Blue Cross Blue Shield, Celtic Insurance Company (selling in Arkansas as Ambetter), and two companies owned by the parent company QualChoice Holdings: QualChoice Life and Health Insurance Company, Inc. and QCH Health Plan Inc. /more/
  • Picking apart the teachers' insurance "fix" just approved by the legislature

    July 2, 2014
    The crisis in the public school employee (PSE) insurance system is complicated. The politics behind it are complicated. The solutions just passed by the legislature to once again shore up the troubled fund — those are complicated, too. But the underlying reason behind the fund’s insolvency is simple: the public isn't paying enough for its share of PSE insurance. /more/
  • Tom Cotton: "Mark Pryor thinks that faith is something that only happens on Sunday mornings."

    July 2, 2014
    In an interview with KNWA in Fayetteville, Rep. Tom Cotton commented on Sen. Mark Pryor's faith in response to a question about the Supreme Court's ruling in the Hobby Lobby case: "Barack Obama and Mark Pryor think that faith is something that only happens at 11:00 on Sunday mornings. That's when we worship but faith is what we live every single day." Pryor called it a "deeply personal attack...for him to question my faith is out of bounds." The Pryor campaign called on Cotton to apologize. /more/
  • State-appropriated funding for Obamacare guides ends; outreach will depend on private funding

    July 1, 2014
    Today, the first day of the new fiscal year, marks the end of state-appropriated funding for more than 500 outreach workers known as In-Person Assistant (IPA) guides, charged with education, outreach, and enrollment help for the new insurance options available under the Affordable Care Act. The Arkansas Insurance Department has closed contracts with the 27 organizations tasked with hiring and overseeing 537 guides throughout the state. The change comes because of an amendment to the private option adopted in last year's fiscal session. In some cases, workers will be laid off and those guide positions will simply end; in other cases, organizations may seek private funding to continue the guides' work or may continue to employ the guides themselves, adding the positions within their own scope of work. /more/
  • Tom Cotton declines to take stance on state minimum wage and private option

    July 1, 2014
    At a press conference today, Rep. Tom Cotton declined to take positions on two big issues likely to get a lot of political attention in Arkansas in the coming months. He wouldn't say where he stood on the state minimum wage hike, saying he was going to focus on "what I can accomplish in Washington for Arkansas families" and continued to dodge questions about his stance on the private option. /more/
  • The open line: Bitter enders, charter schools and a sane Republican

    June 22, 2014
    The Sunday night line is open. A roundup includes Koch-heads carrying their anti-Obamacare evangelizing to Utah; another academic proclaims charter schools a failure, and, from Texas, a sane Republican. /more/
  • Catholic bishop joins push to enroll people in Arkansas's private option

    June 20, 2014
    The Arkansas legislature took the crazy step of approving the private option version of Medicaid expansion while also preventing government from publicizing its available (preparatory Rep. Nate Bell said to killing Obamacare altogether.) /more/
  • More »


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by David Ramsey

  • The Woo Pig Sooie TM Edition

    I fill in for Lindsey this week, who's on daddy duty with a new baby boy (congrats Lindsey!). Max joins me to talk Razorback trademarking, the state of the Pryor-Cotton and Hutchinson-Ross races (tomatoes! debates!), ballot initiatives for statewide booze sales and raising the minimum wage, and the possibility of Uber coming to Little Rock. Plus endorsements for the city of Nashville and "Getting Back to Abnormal," a character-rich documentary on post-Katrina New Orleans politics.
    • Jul 18, 2014
  • Arkansas requires cosmetology licenses for hair braiders and bans dental specialists from doing basic dental work

    The Institute for Justice is challenging the state regulations in court.
    • Jul 10, 2014
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31  



© 2014 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation