Lawmakers decided who the next speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives will be during a closed-door meeting Monday. State Rep. Charles McCall, R-Atoka, defeated state Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, for the leadership spot.
Sears, who’s the chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, will have to give up his House seat in 2018 due to term limits. McCall, who was first elected to the House in 2012, won’t be term-limited until 2024, although GOP caucus rules prevent a speaker from holding the post longer than four years, The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt reports:
“I think that may have played in the decision, perhaps,” McCall said. “Since the Republicans have taken the majority in the House of Representatives, we have not had a four-year speaker. I think that is appealing to some of our members.”
Even then, McCall took a cautious tone about his future as one of the state’s top elected officials.
“The fact that I have a number of years to serve means I can and will be held accountable by the members of the House of Representatives,” he said.
McCall worked as a community banker before serving as Atoka’s mayor for seven years. He replaces House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview.
Hickman, now in his last year at the Legislature, praised the clean race and said the caucus is unified.
“I couldn’t be happier to have a speaker-designate named now that I can begin working with, who will also be working with our candidates across the state,” said Hickman, R-Fairview. “Rep. McCall brings not only his two terms in the Legislature, but an incredible private-sector experience and a great deal of maturity.”
McCall’s new job isn’t official yet. After November’s election, he’ll face another GOP caucus vote in order to include freshman Republicans. His first term as speaker would begin in 2017.
House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, said his relationship with McCall has been positive during the three-and-a-half years they’ve served together, according to Denwalt:
“He’s easy to work with, affable and easy to get along with,” Inman said. “My hope is that the speaker’s office doesn’t make him too jaded, because it certainly has the potential to do that with all the new responsibilities coming his way.”
McCall is also known for his behind-the-scenes work as a lawmaker. Inman said his understated style has engendered respect on both sides of the aisle.
“He’s not one to be known to have a quick temper or a sharp tongue,” Inman said. “He seems to be pretty level-headed and calm.”