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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Three Way Race for Speaker

Okay, it's not much of a race. Terri Norelli will soon be re-elected Speaker of the House.

The Republican Caucus has nominated Minority Leader Sherm Packard.

Representative Robert Rowe (R-Amherst) is also seeking the gavel, and is making a unique case from the floor. He wants more partisanship in order to get less partisanship.

By separating the Speaker's Office from the Democratic and Republican Caucuses, Rowe says the Speaker can meet the needs of all 400 Members, and the two party caucuses can make their cases in a less confrontational fashion. Rowe would change House rules so that rather than appointing the Majority and Minority Leaders, each would be elected by their caucuses.

Currently, the Speaker selects the Majority Leader and respects the nomination of the opposing party for Minority Leader. Rowe also promises a more open process, saying that too often last term, House leadership shut off debate in Committee and stacked debate on the House floor.

UPDATE- I just spoke with Representative Rowe as the balloting is concluding. He says he had received pledges of support from several Democrats, and that if Sherm Packard hadn't placed his name in nomination, it would have been a very close race.

"I've been a moderate, consensus-builder, and I'm running because this House has changed. Hostility. Get even. I was listening to the nominating speeches, and thought I must have served in a different Legislature for the past two years," Rowe said.

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