With the Republicans currently holding onto an 18-16 majority in the state Senate following a party switch by Sen. Daniel Hall, D-Wyoming, attention now centers around who will become the next Senate president.
One choice could be current Senate Minority Leader Mike Hall, R-Putnam, who has served in the Legislature since 1995. Several other people are being discussed including Sen. Bill Cole, R-Mercer.
But both Hall and Cole said on Thursday it was too early to say who will become the Senate president.
Hall told the Daily Mail nothing has been decided yet and discussions will continue to take place in the coming weeks.
“We don’t want to put our new members into a divisive struggle,” he said.
He admitted he has heard about the possibility of other Democrats considering switching parties but would not divulge any particulars for fear of starting rumors. In fact, Hall said at one point on Tuesday he heard that he was considering switching parties to become a Democrat – to which he immediately dismissed the idea.
“There’s rumors flying everywhere right now,” he said.
Hall said no matter who may join the party in the coming days or whoever is tabbed to become the next Senate president he expects the party to focus on specific issues, including tax reform, education laws and legal reform.
Hall said he would be happy to play whatever role is necessary, whether that involves becoming president or not. He also said there are plenty of qualified candidates, including some elected on Tuesday and that he would support whoever is tabbed for the position, including Cole, who he said brings leadership and business experience with him.
Cole said it would be inappropriate to say who is being discussed for the position. When asked whether he was interested in becoming the Senate president, Cole said, “I wanted to come to Charleston to serve. I’m here to make West Virginia a better place. And I’ll take on whatever responsibility.”
Sen. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, said it was too early to say whom he would support for the position but he knows the party will work together as a team going forward.
“The time has come for West Virginia to live up to its potential,” he said.
Blair said the Republican Party offers a pathway to prosperity. “We realize our time may be limited and we need to show results,” he said. “We’ve got a new era going in West Virginia and I’m hoping that everyone’s going to reap the benefits.”