Republicans in the state House chose a Goldsboro resident Tuesday as one of the top lieutenants to the House speaker.
The state House Republican Caucus elected Rep. John Bell IV as its new majority leader and Rep. Dean Arp of Monroe as the majority whip. Rep. Pat McElraft of Emerald Isle was appointed as deputy whip.
“The caucus is very much united,” Speaker Tim Moore of Kings Mountain said at a brief news conference at the NCGOP headquarters in Raleigh, where the caucus votes were taken. “We are going forward with the singular purpose in the fall of maintaining our supermajority and expanding it.”
Republicans currently hold 75 seats in the 120-member House, but Democrats hope to cut into that margin in November and eliminate the GOP supermajority in that chamber.
Bell and Rep. Michael Speciale of New Bern ran for the majority leader position, and Bell was chosen in a caucus vote. The results of the vote weren't released.
Bell, 37, works in business development for North Carolina Community Federal Credit Union in Goldsboro and in his second term is chairman of the House Regulatory Reform Committee and the House Select Committee on Wildlife Resources. He is running for re-election this fall against Democrat Evelyn Paul.
He said he looks forward to traveling the state to get the Republican message out to voters ahead of the Nov. 8 elections, when all state House and Senate seats are on ballots across the state. “We’ve done an outstanding job in the General Assembly, and I look forward to helping all our members spread that message,” Bell said.
The majority leader position became available with the resignation of former Rep. Mike Hager of Rutherford County earlier this month. The majority whip position opened up with the election of Bell, who had been in that post.
The new leaders will serve only through early December, when the caucus is expected to select leaders for the 2017-18 legislative session. Bell and Arp didn't comment Tuesday when asked if they wanted to continue in their positions for the next two years, but Bell had previously expressed his interest in remaining in that role.
The majority whip position wasn't contested. Arp, an engineer, called his selection “humbling and overwhelming.”
“Together we have a great story to tell,” he said. “We’ve proven ourselves that we have great ideas on jobs and the economy.”