Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina House Republicans tapped Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, to serve another two years as House speaker, the chamber's top job, during a meeting in Raleigh Monday.
Although the vote won't be official until lawmakers reconvene and formally hold a vote at the General Assembly in January, Moore's reappointment is all but reassured. Republicans hold a super-majority in the House, and no other member challenged Moore. Rep. Harry Warren, R-Rowan, had announced a run but withdrew his name from consideration, according to Moore and others who were in the room. Leadership elections among the House caucuses are closed to the public.
"The caucus chose fit to allow me to serve another term as speaker, so I'm very grateful for that," Moore said.
Rep. Sarah Stevens, R-Surry, will serve as speaker pro tem, a position that is nominally the No. 2 job in the chamber but is largely ceremonial in nature. In recent years, the pro tem has taken on a package of high-profile issues to push through the chamber and has served as a member of the speaker's leadership team. Stevens succeeds Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, who did not seek re-election this year.
House Republicans also chose Rep. John Bell, R-Wayne, as majority leader for the coming term, a post he'll inhabit right away because it does not require ratification by the full House.
Other leadership posts will be held by:
- Rep. Steven Ross, R-Alamance, deputy majority leader
- Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland, conference chair
- Rep. Jon Hardister, R-Guilford, majority whip
- Rep.-elect Destin Hall, R-Caldwell, freshman leader
- Rep.-elect Brenden Jones, R-Bladen, freshman whip
During a news conference announcing the selections, Moore fielded questions about reports the General Assembly could possibly be called upon to decide the election between Gov. Pat McCrory and Attorney General Roy Cooper. Cooper, a Democrat, narrowly edged McCrory, according to unofficial returns, but McCrory had alleged a number of election improprieties, delaying a final count.
"We'll simply wait on the certification of the election," Moore said. "I'll reserve any comment until the outcome of the election is decided."
Pressed on the point, Moore said, "given that the elections are not finalized at this point, any further comment would be premature."
Amy Auth, a spokeswoman for Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, also declined to speculate on the possibility the legislature could be called on to settle the race.
"We hope the existing process will determine the winner of the governor’s race," she said. "Realistically, that process could take several months so we are a long way off from talking about legislative involvement."
Moore also said lawmakers had no plans to expand the state Supreme Court by two justices, which as been the subject of a persistent rumor over the past two weeks but denied by elected lawmakers and their legislative staff. An expansion bill passed during a December special session, the theory goes, would allow McCrory to leave his stamp on the court before leaving office and reverse a 4-3 majority soon to be held by Democrats.
"I don't want to comment on rumors," Moore said. "We're haven't planned to do anything along those lines at this point. I'm not saying it won't happen, I'm not saying it will happen. Frankly, we have not discussed it in our caucus."
The House Republican caucus generally vets any controversial or sweeping policy measures before they are rolled out in a legislative program.
Asked whether lawmakers would return to a special session to allocate money for Hurricane Matthew and to address wildfires in the western part of the state, Moore seemed uncertain.
"We have not been given any dates as of yet for a special session," he said, adding that he believes the Governor's Office is still compiling needed information.
"Certainly, there is a cost the state is going to incur, and we're still trying to determine what amount the federal government will pay. So, at this point, we just don't know," he said. "My belief is we very well may have to have a special session. I'm thinking we probably will, but we don't know yet. But we're trying to move very deliberately and make sure we have the full cost in so that, when we come in, we can deal with it in a comprehensive manner."