House elects Darrin Williams speaker designate | Arkansas Blog

Friday, March 9, 2012

House elects Darrin Williams speaker designate

Posted By on Fri, Mar 9, 2012 at 12:33 PM

SPEAKERS CONTEST: Darrin Williams speaks to House.

TERRY RICE
  • TERRY RICE
The Arkansas House adjourned today and then turned to a secret ballot vote on designating a speaker for the 2013-14 legislature.

The vote was 54-46 for Democrat Rep. Darrin Williams of Little Rock over Republican Rep. Terry Rice of Waldron. The House is currently split 54-46 between Democrats and Republicans. It would appear to be a straight party-line vote, though we can't know that for sure.

It was going to be history-making one way or the other.

Williams, a Democrat, would be the first black House speaker. Rice would be the first Republican speaker, at least since Reconstruction. (What do you think those Republicans would think of today's crop?)

The outcome today isn't a guarantee that the speaker designate will take the seat from Robert Moore in January. A new legislature in January, including many new members from November elections, could hold another election. That is almost a certainty should the current Democratic majority go over to the Republican Party. Both Williams and Rice pledged to be bipartisan as leaders. Rice said he'd cut the income tax and state regulation.

Think Washington partisanship hasn't arrived in LR? Twitter from Rep. Justin Harris, who runs the taxpayer-funded church pre-school:

The ball game has just started. The vote was down party lines 54-46. Terry Rice will be the next Speaker of the House.

Video of the Williams's press conference after the jump.

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