Roger Hanshaw Elected West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker
CHARLESTON — It’s been almost 100 years since a Republican succeeded another Republican as speaker of the House of Delegates, but that happened Wednesday as the House of Delegates elevated Delegate Roger Hanshaw to the podium.
Hanshaw, a two-term Republican from Clay County, beat House Minority Leader Tim Miley, D-Harrison, in a ceremonial vote, but the entire House united behind Hanshaw, as is tradition when selecting a new speaker.
“Our service in this house gives us an opportunity to make a contribution to this state, our chosen home, in a way that other citizens will never have,” Hanshaw said after being sworn in.
“I wish you the best of success in what time remains for you as speaker,” Miley said. “Even if you remain speaker in the next session, I look forward to working with you.”
Miley was nominated by the House Democratic Caucus by Delegates Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, and Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell.
“I find it very important that we all know that Delegate Miley is a team player,” Hornbuckle said. “He puts everyone else before himself. Tim has always stressed the importance of being fair.”
“A great speaker will listen to us and listen to the people of West Virginia and act accordingly,” Pushkin said. “In the time I’ve spent serving under Minority Leader Tim Miley, that’s the kind of leadership that we’ve all seen.”
The House Republican Caucus met for over four hours Tuesday night to choose Hanshaw, emerging from the chamber just short of midnight.
The caucus, which is closed to the public, went through four rounds of voting, according to sources.
Candidates in round one included Hanshaw and Delegates Marty Gearheart, R-Mercer; Jim Butler, R-Mason; and Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha.
In round four, the vote was between Hanshaw and Nelson, the chairman of the powerful House Finance Committee. Hanshaw won that final vote 32-30, but he cast his vote for Nelson.
“I asked Roger after the election was over why, because I was a little bit puzzled because it was a close race,” said House Judiciary Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer, who nominated Hanshaw from the floor. “He just simply said it was the right thing to do. That speaks volumes about the person that I think is the right person to lead our caucus.”
“Roger Hanshaw could do anything, he could live anywhere, but he chooses us, and he chooses to serve West Virginia as a public servant,” said Delegate Amy Summers, R-Taylor. “He understands that one policy change can make a difference in a community.”
Despite four rounds of voting and the long hours Tuesday night, the caucus stood behind Hanshaw as he addressed the press. Hanshaw said he would be working closely with caucus members to develop an agenda going into the legislative session next year.
“We’re looking forward to working together over the course of the next couple of months to develop a policy agenda that continues to put West Virginians back to work, that continues to help small communities thrive, that continues to help make it possible to start and grow a business here in West Virginia,” Hanshaw said.
Hanshaw, 38, is an attorney with a law degree from West Virginia University and a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Notre Dame. He also was a staff attorney in the West Virginia Senate for the Republicans.
Hanshaw won election to the House in 2014 and again in 2016. He is the vice-chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, chairman of the Enrolled Bills Committee. He also co-chairs the Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding and sits on the Public Employee Insurance Agency Taskforce.
Hanshaw succeeds Delegate Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, as House speaker — the first time a Republican has succeeded another Republican in 97 years. Armstead, a 20-year member of the house and house speaker since 2014, resigned Aug. 21 to run for a seat on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals vacated by former Justice Menis Ketchum’s resignation last month. Armstead was appointed Aug. 25 by Gov. Jim Justice to fill Ketchum’s seat until a special election in November.
“Speaker Armstead was the first Republican to occupy that podium since this capitol building came into existence,” Hanshaw said. “Tim was, and is, a steadfast believer in those things he values. He embodied the notion of ethics and high moral standards. We can all learn something from former Speaker Armstead’s example of how to conduct one’s self as a public servant.”
The election for speaker will only be for the next four months. The House will need to select a new speaker at the beginning of the 2019 legislative session.
“I’m honored and, in fact, humbled to have that confidence shown by my colleagues,” Hanshaw said. “It’s going to be a privilege and a pleasure to work with all of these people — every one of them — developing the policy agenda and moving the state forward.”