Democrat elected House speaker
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HARRISBURG -- This time, House Democrats elected one of their own as the new speaker.
Rep. Keith R. McCall, D-Carbon, who was first elected to the House in 1982, was chosen as speaker yesterday on a party-line, 104-99 vote. Democrats will control the chamber by that margin for the 2009-10 session, and all the Democrats voted for Mr. McCall, while all Republicans voted for House Republican leader Sam Smith of Punxsutawney.
Mr. Smith was nominated by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, who last week said he would run for speaker . Mr. Metcalfe said he was defeated earlier in the day in a closed caucus of House GOP members, losing to Mr. Smith.
All members of the House were sworn in for two-year terms.
Two years ago, although Democrats controlled the House by a 102-101 margin, a Republican, Rep. Dennis O'Brien of Philadelphia, was elected speaker. That's because at least one Democrat had said he couldn't support Rep. Bill DeWeese, D-Waynesburg, who had been expected to get the speaker's job.
Mr. McCall was nominated by Rep. Joe Markosek, D-Monroeville, and seconded by Rep. Joseph Petrarca, whose father served in the House with both Mr. McCall and his father, Rep. Tom McCall, who died in 1981.
In his acceptance speech, Mr. McCall didn't go into detail about the major problems the House will face in the next two years, such as balancing the current budget and the 2009-10 budget, extending health insurance, warding off sharp electric rate increases and others.
"More than 12 million men, women and children in Pennsylvania are depending on our courage," he said, ''the courage to make the right decisions, not the easy decisions. We care about Pennsylvania and we want to make the right decisions. We must keep our minds on the job ahead of us."
Also speaking yesterday was the new House majority leader, Rep. Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne, who replaces former Majority Leader DeWeese. Mr. DeWeese is now the party whip, third in line of power.
While the House has 99 Republican members, two of them, Reps. Scott Perry of York and Nick Miccarelli of Delaware, will soon ship out to the Mideast for a tour of military duty.
Members of the Senate elected in November were also sworn into office yesterday . There are 50 members of the Senate, but they serve for four years, so only half the total runs every two years.
First Published January 6, 2009 10:32 pm