From Under the Dome:
RALEIGH — Republicans members picked Mecklenburg County lawmaker Thom Tillis as speaker of the N.C. House this afternoon.
Tillis beat out current minority Leader Paul “Skip” Stam, an Apex attorney. That means that not only will the leader’s gavel will pass from the Democrats to the Republicans, but also that it will leave the Triangle: Joe Hackney, a Chapel Hill Democrat, had held the post since 2007.
Tillis, a 50-year-old management consultant who has worked for Fortune 500 companies, is congenial and polished, and has the reputation for focusing on the big priorities. He was first elected just four years ago, but has moved quickly up the leadership ladder in his party. He is currently minority whip, and generated hefty goodwill among fellow GOP members during this year’s campaigning by raising more than $350,000 to help Republican candidates to Stam’s more than $240,000.
Tillis’ selection still has to be elected by a vote of the full House when it reconvenes in January, but that is expected to be no more than a formality, given the GOP’s new 68 – 52 edge over Democrats.
He’ll move into the top job in the chamber as the Republicans begin a history-making year. It will be the first time in more than a century that the GOP has held both the House and Senate, and they’re eager to start work on a priority list of legislation that got nowhere under Democrats, including a proposal for a constitutional amendment to limit eminent domain and legislation to limit the effects of the federal health care overhaul on North Carolinians.