On a party-line 62-34 vote Wednesday, the West Virginia House of Delegates elected two-term Delegate Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, to be the 58th speaker of the House. He will complete the unexpired term of former speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, who resigned Aug. 21 to run for state Supreme Court.
As Hanshaw noted in his acceptance speech Wednesday, his tenure could be one of the shortest in House history, since both parties will caucus in December and the full House will vote Jan. 9 to elect a speaker to lead in the 84th Legislature.
“We’ll do this process again in four months,” said Hanshaw, 38, a lawyer with the Bowles Rice law firm in Charleston.
Barring an unanticipated special session, Hanshaw is unlikely to preside over the House during the brief tenure, although Wednesday’s speaker election could make him the front-runner in the speaker’s race in January, assuming Republicans retain control of the House and Hanshaw is re-elected in November.
Hanshaw faces a tough general election campaign against Democrat David Walker, a three-term delegate from the 33rd District, who lost to Hanshaw in the 2016 general election by 119 votes.
During nominating speeches, delegates referenced a long, heated Republican caucus Tuesday evening where Hanshaw faced off against House Finance Chairman Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, on multiple secret ballots before securing a majority.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer, said he noticed that Hanshaw was voting for the opposition, and said Hanshaw later confided that he felt it was the right thing to do.
Shott praised Hanshaw for his intelligence and forthrightness.
“You’ll know where you stand with Roger, and you’ll know very quickly,” Shott said.
In seconding the nomination, Delegate Amy Summers, R-Taylor, said Hanshaw would continue “the transformation of West Virginia” under Republican leadership.
“He’s smart. He’s matter-of-fact. He’s not easily flustered or riled up,” she said.
As is tradition, the minority party also nominates a candidate for speaker and, on Wednesday, the Democrats nominated House Minority Leader Tim Miley, D-Harrison.
Following tradition, the two nominees voted for each other in the roll-call vote.
After Hanshaw’s election, Miley echoed comments by Shott and Summers about Hanshaw.
“I look forward to working with you in a bipartisan, unified manner to lead the state in the direction it needs to go,” Miley said.
He also said of Hanshaw’s election, “I hope it’s a short-lived job.”
Hanshaw was joined by his wife, Kirsten, and their two young daughters as he was sworn in by Judge Dan Greear, who had been House general counsel before his appointment as a Kanawha circuit judge in July.
Hanshaw’s brief acceptance speech did not address specific issues, primarily focusing on the honor of being able to serve in the House.
“Never, never enter the doors of the Capitol mad,” he told his fellow delegates. “Enter the doors of the Capitol gratified to be one of the 100 members who are able to chart the future of the state.”
Hanshaw has bachelor’s and law degrees from West Virginia University and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Notre Dame.