CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mingo County Delegate Harry Keith White said Thursday he was surprised but flattered that new Speaker Tim Miley named him majority leader in the West Virginia House of Delegates.
"I was pleased he would select me as his majority leader," said White, a Gilbert bank executive who has been House Finance Committee chairman since 2007.
White challenged Miley, D-Marion, last month in the race to replace former House Speaker Rick Thompson, who resigned to become secretary of the state Department of Veterans Assistance.
White dropped out of the race and threw his support to Miley four days before the House of Delegates was called into special session to elect a new speaker.
Traditionally, such challenges are rewarded with back-row demotions, but White said he didn't anticipate retaliation from Miley.
"Tim and I are pretty good friends, and we've worked well together in the four years or so that he was Judiciary chairman, and I was Finance chair," White said. "We always remained good friends, even after the speaker's race was over."
Also Thursday, Miley appointed the previous majority leader, Delegate Brent Boggs, D-Braxton, chairman of the Finance Committee. Boggs could not be reached for comment.
White said he expects the Finance Committee to face another tight budget year in 2014.
"What we've heard from the Governor's Office and the Budget Office," he said. "They all say it's going to be another tough year, but we'll see what happens."
Miley also appointed current Judiciary Committee Vice Chairman Tim Manchin, D-Marion, to fill his vacancy as committee chairman. Delegate Mark Hunt, D-Kanawha, was named the committee's vice chairman.
Delegate David Perry, D-Fayette, who was vice chairman of the Health and Human Resources Committee, is now vice chairman of the Education Committee. He replaces Josh Stowers, a former Lincoln County delegate -- and assistant principal at Horace Mann Middle School in Kanawha City -- who left the House to work in the state Treasurer's Office.
Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, was named to replace Perry as vice chairman on the Health and Human Resources Committee.
Overall, Miley made few changes in committee chairmanships, a point he stressed Thursday in a prepared statement.
"My primary goal is maintaining stability and building upon the successes of the past House administration," he said. "In making these appointments, I also took into consideration talent, ideology and geographic balance."
As majority leader, White will work in coordination with Miley to run House floor sessions.
"I'm looking forward to a new challenge," White said. "I've always said jokingly that everybody ought to change jobs every five to seven years."
Reach Phil Kabler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1220.