This week from Charleston
First, as an update to last week’s column on the Speaker’s race, I have endorsed Del. Tim Miley of Harrison County for Speaker of the House. I have known Del. Miley for quite a long time as a friend and fellow lawyer, and I have been happy to serve under his leadership in the Judiciary Committee this year. I have not made this decision lightly, but I do believe that he will best serve the whole state, and more importantly, not forget the Eastern Panhandle. Tim grew up in suburban Maryland, right outside of DC, and understands the Eastern Panhandle better than most of the delegates not from the Eastern Panhandle. His knowledge of the Eastern Panhandle and the Metro DC area makes me confident that he will understand our very unique needs compared to most of the state.
Importantly, Miley’s district is in the Clarksburg area, which is in North Central part of West Virginia. We have had many Speakers of the House from Southern West Virginia over the years, and I think it is time for us to find a Speaker who is closer to the center of the state (and closer to us). Like we saw with the election of Senator Jeffrey Kessler from the Northern Panhandle as be President of the West Virginia Senate and the benefits to the Eastern Panhandle as a result, I think that we can hope to see benefits from a Miley speakership. Of course, the race is far from over, and many things can happen, but I want to stake my position now. (In no way does this endorsement take away from my respect of the other candidate, Del. Harry Keith White of Mingo County, whom I think has done a fantastic job as the House Finance Committee Chair. He has been one of the reasons why the leadership team kept a lid on new spending while managing to cut taxes in West Virginia).
What can we expect in a new Speaker? I think most member so the caucus would hope for some stability and unity. However I think we should see a new agenda that addresses the problems across the state without favoring one region over another. Importantly, if Miley is successful, he brings a generational shift to the leadership as he will be the first Gen X leader in the House. At 47, he brings a fresh perspective that will serve us all well. This generational difference may be more important than any other issue.