CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A lone Democrat broke ranks to vote for the Republican candidate for House speaker, saying outside interest groups were too aggressive in their push for House Judiciary Chairman Tim Miley.
Delegate Ryan Ferns, D-Ohio, voted for House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, in the speaker's race.
"As I said, my views are what they are, and my decision to support Tim Armstead had more to do with my displeasure with the process of this election," Ferns said.
The House met Tuesday in a special session called by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to choose a replacement for Rick Thompson as speaker. Thompson resigned Saturday to become the cabinet secretary for the Department of Veterans Assistance.
Thompson announced his intention to leave a month ago, quickly spurring a bit of Democratic politicking. Miley and House Finance Chairman Harry Keith White eventually emerged as frontrunners in the race, but it took awhile for the two to reach a consensus.
In late May, the AFL-CIO and the state's two largest teacher's unions - The American Federation of Teachers and the West Virginia Education Association - all began to push for Miley.
The state Chamber of Commerce didn't make an official endorsement, but it voiced support for White and was critical of candidates who backed Miley.
Ferns, 30, declined to specify which groups he was referring to, but he said he was displeased at the impact outside groups had on the race for speaker.
"My understanding is, some of my fellow colleagues were, I think, excessively persuaded for different means by special interest groups," Ferns said.
"I think there were bully tactics involved. I think it was excessive in the way that it was done."
White and Miley both acknowledged outside groups influenced the race but had different takes on the impact of the groups.
"Obviously (Miley) did have the labor support. There was a lot of members at that point and time that felt they were obligated to labor to support Tim," White said Tuesday before the election.
It's common for interest groups to show support in a speaker's race, Miley said. He also mentioned the groups' endorsement process as a potential reason why some might have been upset.
Groups send questionnaires to legislative candidates and use the answers to make endorsements. Some questionnaires ask if candidates will wait for a group to make its recommendation for speaker before the candidate publicly supports someone, Miley said.
"And I think that's what they got frustrated with at times, when some people committed early, without waiting for those groups to make their recommendation.