Local News

Daughtry Withdraws Name As Candidate For Speaker

Posted January 29, 2003 11:39 a.m. EST

— Rep. Leo Daughtry stepped aside Tuesday in the race to become the next speaker of the North Carolina House, allowing Yadkin County Rep. George Holmes to be nominated in his place.

Daughtry's candidacy for the speakership, one of the most powerful political positions in the state, had divided House Republicans even though a majority supported him at a meeting in November.

Those divisions increased last week after the GOP lost its 61-59 House majority, earned in the November elections, when Rep. Michael Decker of Forsyth County switched his party affiliation to Democrat.

Daughtry's decision to drop out of the speaker's race came during a meeting of House Republicans that went almost three hours on the eve of the opening of the General Assembly session.

Daughtry's attempt to unite Republicans may not be enough to help Holmes, who was a co-chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee when Republicans controlled the House from 1995 to 1999.

Several Republicans said Holmes defeated Rep. Connie Wilson of Mecklenburg County in the final vote for the nomination by more than 2-1. But they declined to give exact numbers.

One GOP legislator said the vote was 36-17, with many members not voting.

Legislators said Wilson and Rep. Richard Morgan, R-Moore, may also be nominated for speaker when the House convenes Wednesday.

Daughtry said he realized Monday that he couldn't win the support of a majority of House members.

"It became apparent to me that I was five or six (votes) short," said Daughtry, R-Johnston. "I told them that I had tried my best.

"I'm proud to say that George Holmes will be the caucus nominee. But I'm not proud to say that we have two other candidates running."

Holmes said he hoped to unite Republicans and find a few Democratic votes to win the speakership.

"We feel like that if we can become united tomorrow, that we will elect a Republican," Holmes said. "I think people across this state believe that we should elect a Republican."

Morgan said Tuesday night he was pleased to see Daughtry out of the race, adding that he wished Daughtry had backed out sooner to avoid the infighting.

Morgan didn't rule out his own nomination, adding he wanted to talk to Holmes by Wednesday before deciding whether to vote for him.

"I'd like to have time to see what's his vision for the future for North Carolina," Morgan said.

Wilson did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Daughtry, a former gubernatorial candidate and outgoing minority leader, is mistrusted by some within his party, especially those close to former speaker and current Rep. Harold Brubaker.

Morgan is a key Brubaker ally and served as his Rules Committee chairman during his run as speaker.

Holmes, 73, is a former schoolteacher and real estate broker. He is about to begin his 14th term in the House, dating back to 1975.

Holmes said one of his main goals would be to shorten the amount of time legislators are in Raleigh.

"We need to manage our time down here," Holmes said. "The speaker is responsible for that."

Current House Speaker Jim Black, D-Mecklenburg, also is trying to line up the necessary votes to win a third term in the post.

The Legislature completed its longest two-year session in state history during the 2001-02 term as lawmakers dealt with budget shortfalls and redistricting.