CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A union official denied his group strong-armed anyone into voting for Delegate Tim Miley, D-Harrison, for Speaker of the House.
"They did not get browbeat or strong-armed from Kenny Perdue or Josh Sword," AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue said. Sword is AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer.
The House met Tuesday in special session to elect a new speaker. Former speaker Rick Thompson resigned to become the cabinet secretary for the Department of Veterans Assistance.
Miley and House Finance Committee Chairman Harry Keith White emerged as the favorites in the weeks leading up the vote.
The AFL-CIO, the state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers and the West Virginia Education Association all publicly endorsed Miley. The state Chamber of Commerce made no official endorsement, but repeatedly praised White.
In Tuesday's election, Delegate Ryan Ferns, D-Ohio, broke ranks to vote for Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha. He said he was unhappy with the amount of influence wielded by interest groups in the election.
"My understanding is, some of my fellow colleagues were, I think, excessively persuaded for different means by special interest groups," Ferns said Tuesday. ""I think there were bully tactics involved. I think it was excessive in the way that it was done."
White said some delegates felt "obligated to labor" to support Miley.
Miley said he didn't know of any nefarious tactics, but said he told Ferns not to hold anything like that against him because he did not encourage it.
The AFL-CIO didn't endorse Ferns, Perdue said Wednesday. When it is considering endorsing a candidate, it sends out a questionnaire. It includes a question about whether a candidate will wait until the AFL-CIO endorses a speaker candidate before making a public commitment.Perdue said they called delegates to remind them of their promises, but didn't tell them how they had to vote.