RALEIGH — With the 2024 presidential election year approaching and redistricting looming, there has been speculation that House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) may make a bid for Congress. That speculation was strengthened after Moore recently confirmed he will not be seeking another term leading the N.C. House of Representatives next year.
Likely candidates should House Republicans maintain control for the speaker’s role include Majority Leader Rep. John Bell (R-Wayne), Senior Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), and Rules and Operations Committee Chairman Rep. Destin Hall (R-Caldwell).
During recent interviews about the legislative session, North State Journal asked all three men about their interest in becoming speaker prior to Moore’s announcement. All three showed varying levels of interest.
“Well, first of all, Speaker Moore has been the longest-serving speaker in state history. Along with that, I’ve been the longest-serving Majority Leader in state history,” Bell said in response to the question of interest in the speakership. “And so we’ve worked hand-in-hand on a lot of issues – don’t always agree, but we’re always able to find an agreement.”
“I’ve enjoyed working with Speaker Moore and enjoyed serving in the capacity of Majority Leader and I think I’ve earned the trust of our caucus; not just our caucus, but also my Democrat colleagues on the other side of the aisle,” said Bell. “It’s no secret if the speaker decides to retire and pursue other options, I would definitely be interested. I’ve had a lot of members in our caucus and also other members within the chamber strongly encourage me to consider that.”
Bell said he would have to “weigh those options and talk with my family” first, but said running for speaker was “definitely” something he’d be interested in.
Saine also noted Moore was the longest-serving House speaker in state history and that anyone running would have “big shoes to fill.”
“My name does get mentioned by my colleagues going, ‘Please consider running for Speaker,’ and folks from outside you know, of course, the lobbyists talk about it; the Members of the Senate talk about it,” Saine said, adding that “anybody paying attention” to events in Raleigh has probably asked him about it.
“But one – I’m not running,” said Saine. “But I don’t think that anybody truly is at this point. And I really want to see how this shakes out. Until you have that election, my job right now is conference leader. My job is to get us back to a super majority plus some. And that’s really what I’ll be laser-focused on.”
Saine also thinks most of the speculation right now is “good fodder” for “chatter online and the rumor mill.”
The 49-year-old Saine dropped names like Bell and Hall as individuals who may be future speaker candidates.
“I’m friends with both of them. We work very well together,” remarked Saine. “We’ve been part of the leadership team management team for quite some time and working well.”
He added it was unlikely there would be a “dog fight to see who becomes speaker” and that things will “naturally kind of play out to some degree,” in a way that will be beneficial to the caucus.
“We’d all have different leadership styles,” said Saine. “Pick any three of them and I think they could work for our caucus. And there’s no acrimony in our caucus.”
Saine also mentioned the time commitment of being speaker is something to consider.
“So, I think I would have a good shot at that, but I’m not focused on running for speaker and not sure too for me from a family perspective,” said Saine. “When you’re speaker, you’re traveling across the state all the time because you’re assisting your members.”
Hall, who is the first millennial to hold a top leadership position, also showed interest in the speakership but was more reserved in his remarks, indicating it was too soon to consider the topic yet.
“What I’ll say to that is a number of our members have asked me to consider doing it,” Hall said. “And what I’ve told them is if our current speaker decides that he doesn’t want to come back, that we’ll take a look at it and there’ll be a time and place for that. We are not there at this point.”
“Right now, I’m focused on being a great rules chair,” said Hall.