N.C. House Republicans gather to pick more leaders

Paul Stam moves up, and Edgar Starnes will be majority leader

cjarvis@newsobserver.comDecember 15, 2012 


Republican Rep. Paul Stam speaks about the changes to the Racial Justice Act being considered on the floor during the House session at the N.C. Legislature on June 13, 2012. The bill passed.

CHRIS SEWARD — cseward@newsobserver.com

The state House GOP caucus on Saturday in High Point chose its leaders for the coming session.

Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam of Apex was promoted from majority leader to speaker pro tem. This will be his seventh term.

Rep. Julia Howard, who represents Davie and Iredell counties, had also been in the running for that position.

The previous pro tem, Rep. Dale Folwell, left office to run unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor. The pro tem steps in to run sessions when the speaker is absent. Speaker Thom Tillis of Cornelius was re-elected to the two-year post last month.

Rep. Edgar Starnes of Caldwell County was chosen majority leader. Rep. David Lewis of Dunn had also sought that position.

Starnes has been in the House since 1993. The majority leader is the point man on floor debates, and leads caucus meetings.

Rep. Ruth Samuelson from Mecklenburg County was named to the new position of House Republican conference leader. Samuelson, in her fourth term, was majority whip and will take on some duties that previously belonged to the majority leader.

Rep. Mike Hager of Rutherford County, was named majority whip. He was the freshman leader last session.

Freshmen caucus members on Saturday also elected leaders: Rep.-elect Rick Catlin of New Hanover County, as freshman leader; and Rep.-elect Dean Arp of Union County, freshman whip, which is a new position.

Tillis’ office, in announcing the results of the meeting at High Point University, didn’t disclose the vote split on each of the contests, but did say that Samuelson and Hager were elected unanimously.

“I am confident in the abilities of our leadership team,” Tillis said in a statement his office released. “With our leaders in place, we can make progress toward organizing the House quickly to ensure an efficient and effective 2013 session.

Lawmakers return briefly on Jan. 9 for a session that gets fully under way on Jan. 30. Tillis was recently quoted as saying he thought the session would end in late May or early June.

Following the November elections, Republicans made gains in both chambers. They will hold 77 of the 120 seats in the House starting next month, a nine-member increase compared to the previous two years.

Democrats in the state Senate will meet on Thursday to pick leaders for their shrinking caucus. Democratic membership in the chamber will slip from 19 to 17.

Sen. Martin Nesbitt, an Asheville Democrat, said he expects to be re-elected minority leader next week.

“We’re going to have a discussion of it,” he said. “I think that’s the way we’re going.”

Jarvis: 919-829-4576

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