The House of Delegates has selected Del. Roger Hanshaw as the chamber’s new presiding officer. Hanshaw took the podium over the Democrats’ choice, House Minority Leader Tim Miley.
House Republicans caucused for four and a half hours Tuesday night to decide who would be the party’s nominee to succeed former Speaker Tim Armstead, who resigned from the House last week before being appointed to an interim seat on the state Supreme Court.
Hanshaw beat out Eric Nelson, Jim Butler and Marty Gearheart, during the course of voting on three secret ballots. The final round gave Hanshaw the edge over Nelson, on a 32-30 vote.
Hanshaw, who works full time as an attorney for the firm Bowles, Rice, was first elected to the House in 2014 and represents the chamber’s 33rd District covering parts of Clay, Calhoun and Gilmer counties. He is also a certified parliamentarian.
House Judiciary Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer, formally nominated Hanshaw as speaker during a Wednesday morning floor session.
“He has all degrees that come along with the mark of intelligence. He's got a B.S. and J.D. -- or law degree -- from West Virginia, a Ph.D. in chemistry from Notre Dame,” Shott noted of Hanshaw. “But in my experience, all those letters after your name don’t mean too much unless you couple that with an abundant supply of common sense.”
Delegate Amy Summers, R-Taylor, seconded Hanshaw’s nomination. She noted an increase in his high-profile responsibilities in the Legislature.
“He has a full-time job, he has a wife and two children, he's run the flood recovery, he's on the impeachment hearings, he's on the PEIA task force. He's doing it all,” Summers said. “A friend of mine recently said to me, and she quoted Lucille Ball: ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person because they'll get it done.’”
Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, nominated House Minority Leader Tim Miley as the Democrats’ choice for speaker. Del. Sean Hornbuckle, of Cabell County, seconded Miley’s nomination.
As expected, the majority party stuck with their nominee, and Hanshaw won on a 62-34 party-line vote.
Speaker Pro Tem John Overington announced Hanshaw as the House’s new presiding officer.
Sticking with tradition, the only break in those party-line votes were Miley and Hanshaw, who voted for the other in a show of respect for the opposing party. Following the election, Miley delivered a few words on Hanshaw to the entire House.
“In the four years that I've known Roger, he exemplifies all of those that he was described with. So, Roger, I wish you the best of success and what time remains for you as speaker. I'm hoping it's short lived. Obviously, I'd be lying if I wasn't. But the fact remains that you are the speaker and will be from here the end of the year,” Miley said.
Kanawha County Circuit Judge and former House of Delegates staff counsel Dan Greear swore in Hanshaw as speaker.
In his first speech, Hanshaw discussed his motivations for public service and expressed his hope of providing opportunity for future generations of West Virginians.
“Our service in this House gives us an opportunity to make a contribution to our state to our chosen home in a way that other citizens of our communities will never have,” Hanshaw said. “I've remarked often to people with whom I've had the privilege to serve -- many of you for the last four years -- that on many, many days I've left this Capitol, mad and frustrated, as I imagine many of you have. But I cannot think of a day -- I cannot think of a single day -- when I have entered the Capitol that way.”
Hanshaw also alluded to the upcoming November midterms, when all 100 House seats -- including his own -- are up for re-election.
“We'll do this process again in just four months. So over the coming weeks will no doubt as members of this body be engaged in debates about matters of public policy in a very public way, often a very heated way," Hanshaw said. "But I hope during that process and during these weeks that come we remember that we are one of the 100 people who have the privilege to walk through that door. We are one of only 100 West Virginians who have the opportunity to sit here in this house and debate the future of families like mine.”
Hanshaw will serve as the 58th Speaker of the House. The Legislature’s regular session is set to begin the first week of January.