Wednesday, December 13, 2006

WV House Speaker-elect Rick Thompson Names Leadership Team

Sunday, triumphant West Virginia House Democrats overwhelmingly voted to elect trial lawyer Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, as their Speaker to succeed retiring Speaker Bob Kiss, D-Raleigh/Kanawha. With that vote, I suspected there would be grab bags of goodies for both southern machine politicians and a variety of liberal interests.

I was not wrong. Today, Speaker-elect Thompson named his new leadership team. Gambling interests drew a full house with the appointment of Mountaineer Park horse trainer Delegate Joe DeLong, D-Hancock, to be the Majority Leader. Labor unions also fared well, as United Mine Workers official Delegate Mike Caputo, D-Marion, was appointed Majority Whip. Southern coalfields politicos won a major victory with the appointment of Delegate Harry Keith White, D-Mingo, as House Finance Committee Chairman. With little surprise, teachers' unions got their choice with the appointment of Delegate Mary Poling, D-Barbour, to chair the House Education Committee.

However, the true gem of the new leadership team will be in the House Judiciary Committee. Trial lawyers, abortionists, gay marriage supporters, the Charleston Gazette, and every possible left-wing cause you could imagine except gun control will cheer tonight as they learn that Delegate Carrie Webster, D-Kanawha, will take over the gavel of the Judiciary Committee from her (comparatively) far more moderate fellow Kanawha County Delegate Jon Amores. However, thanks to the election of socialist Delegate Nancy Peoples Guthrie, D-Kanawha, and the return to office of Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, Webster will have to settle for being just the third most liberal member of the House.