Another Battle Brewing In House As Lawmakers Vote For Speaker Pro-Tem
Posted February 10, 2003 5:51 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — First, state lawmakers couldn't decide who would serve as Speaker of the House.
Now, a new battle is brewing over another leadership role in the state Legislative building.
The name of Michael Decker likely will come up Monday night as House Democrats discuss who to nominate for the role of Speaker Pro-tem.
Decker's switch from Republican to Democrat threw the House into a 60-60 split between Democrats and Republicans. And the man from Forsyth County may be in the running for Speaker Pro-tem - the back-up role to Co-Speakers Richard Morgan and Jim Black.
Decker was one of the first to congratulate Morgan on his selection as the Republican's Speaker last week. But the Democrats are treating Decker as a hero.
Decker's party switch has fueled speculation that he's interested in the Speaker Pro-tem's job. Decker wouldn't talk on camera and refused to speculate on his chances.
Orange County's Verla Insko questions the need for a Speaker Pro-tem.
"We have two speakers," Insko said, "and so there will always be a backup available.
"Another way to look at it is that it's a very visible position with a lot of status and prestige that goes along with it."
Wake County Representave Sam Ellis said there's another option.
"There are some in both caucuses that have discussed to set up a structure for appointment of a Pro-tem at the time of need," Ellis said, "and maybe save a little money by not having two people draw retirement in perpetuity."
Lincoln County's Joe Kiser said he wants to avoid another long floor fight like the one over Speaker.
"I don't think there will be much of a fight if there are two."