About that House speaker's race UPDATES | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

About that House speaker's race UPDATES

Posted By on Tue, Nov 13, 2012 at 8:30 PM

  • SPEAKER CANDIDATE? Rep. Davy Carter.
I alluded earlier to a rumor that has increased in vibrancy as the day went on - that Democrats and a sufficient number of Republicans might get behind a new candidate for House speaker, Rep. Davy Carter. The idea for Democrats is to get something - a somewhat more moderate leader - in return for dropping any push for the current speaker designate, Rep. Darrin Williams. He can't win, but Democrats could force Republicans to directly repudiate Williams' election, adding to their minority-unfriendly reputation. He was set to be the first African-American House speaker before Republicans snared a 51-seat majority in the 100-seat House.

Roby Brock has floated the rumor, I now see. Jason Tolbert, scribe for the Republican caucus, elaborates and notes a split within Republican ranks, some behind Rep. Terry Rice, some looking for different leadership.

Tolbert points out what I'd heard earlier in the day when I noted to a Democrat how Republicans had stacked just about every major standing House committee with a majority, ensuring smooth sailing for agenda bills ranging from anti-abortion bills to vote suppression (ID) legislation (correction: Democrats have a majority on Public Health, where abortion bills typically are assigned, but Democrats are not necessarily unified on that topic). He responded by asking if I'd looked at Joint Budget.

While Republicans were tending to their social agenda, Democrats were tending to money. They've nailed down a majority of the House seats on Joint Budget and that membership will elect the House co-chair. A Democrat, Larry Teague, is already Senate co-chair. This would put Democrats in charge of what emerges from powerful Joint Budget for consideration by the majority Republican legislature. Hmmm. Or will Republicans reject the committee system, at least those committees they don't control? That's a bad idea generally because it has implications for the many pieces of legislation that don't necessarily fall strictly on partisan lines.

Carter has worked across the aisle. He was one of several Republicans favored with choice committee chairmanships (he had Revenue and Taxation) by the past Democratic House speaker Robert Moore. Democrats expected little such bipartisanship from Terry Rice. Some Republicans are grousing that the Joint Budget screwup is Rice's fault. I don't know. But somebody sure did screw up. Unless you take the long view that, over time, oppressing the vote on State Agencies or cutting taxes for the rich at Rev and Tax are more important objectives.

Just talking about the possibility of a speaker alternative might make it unlikely to happen. But it adds a touch of intrigue to Thursday's House leadership vote.

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: I'm not sure the Democratic caucus is entirely on board with this plan, in addition to the obvious split in Republican ranks.

WED. UPDATE II: I now have a copy of rules pertaining to Joint committee appointments. Four additional seats on Joint Budget, voting seats, go to ex officio members or people designated by the speaker, so the Joint Budget majority is an issue that Republicans need not be too worried about.

UPDATE III: I'm not sure what Democrats gain by going along with Davy Carter. Could they honestly expect much from a speaker elected by 48 Democrats and three or so Republicans? What moderation he demonstrates on occasion, he's orthodox in voting the Republican agenda. Democratic support for his leadership won't change that. It might give them a committee chair or two. But against a Republican voting majority, what difference does that really make?

UPDATE IV: Some names emerged Wednesday of Republican suspects in the move to tap Carter for the speaker's post.

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