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Nominations for some legislative leadership roles at this Sunday’s caucuses may be contentious.
On Sunday, House of Delegates and Senate Republican and Democratic caucuses will meet to nominate party leaders.
On the Senate side, with Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, withdrawing from challenging Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, he faces no apparent opposition.
On the House side, Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, is challenged by Del. Brandon Steele, R-Raleigh. Steele has said progress is stalled and he has a leadership team he wants to put in place should he win.
Hanshaw’s Chief of Staff, Ann Ali, said the Speaker hopes to retain his leadership position.
As required by state code, current West Virginia Republican Party Chair Elgine McArdle will initially preside over the gathering, all done behind closed doors.
Former state Republican Party Chair Conrad Lucas said he can’t remember a time a sitting Speaker was voted out of his position in a caucus.
“If it’s happened, it certainly hasn’t happened in recent memory at all,” Lucas said. “Certainly not since the Republicans have been in charge since the 2014 election.”
Lucas said Hanshaw was challenged for the speakership in his previous two year cycles , both times by former delegate and current Sen. Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha.
House Clerk Steve Harrison says Sunday’s caucus votes are basically a “gentleman’s agreement” and not binding.
“The official action doesn’t happen until the first day of session,” Harrison said. “Nominations are open and can be made at that time. Normally, the Republicans nominate one person, the Democrats nominate another person, and then the vote occurs.”
The first day of the 2023 general legislative session is Jan. 11.