CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With gains made in the November election, Republicans don't yet have the ability to control the legislative process in 2013, but they have sufficient numbers in the House of Delegates to wreak havoc if they chose.
Perhaps with that in mind, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin hosted lunch for about a dozen or so ranking Republican delegates and senators at the close of November interim meetings on Wednesday.
Tomblin reminded the legislators that the 2013 session will be a crucial one, with much work to be done on education, health care, and job creation.
He stressed that much can be accomplished if everyone works together, and noted that, when it comes to key issues, they agree more than they disagree.
House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, said he thought it was a good sign that Tomblin was willing to reach out to Republicans.
"We were encouraged that he was willing to sit down with us, and share what his thinking is for the session," Armstead said.
From Tomblin's perspective, it's important to keep an open door with House Republicans, who with 46 members, will have sufficient numbers to tie the House up in knots if they choose.
"We're not going to be contentious for the sake of being contentious," Armstead said.
Meanwhile, if there was to be any change of leadership in the House for the 2013 session, the maneuvering would have taken place during the November interim meetings, in preparation for the party caucuses that are held the Sunday evening before December interims, this year on Dec. 9.
That didn't happen, as the most viable challenger to House Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, House Finance Chairman Harry Keith White, D-Mingo, has stayed true to the current leadership team.
(As noted before, it doesn't make a lot of sense to risk the chairmanship of the Finance Committee for a chance to make what could be considered a lateral move to House speaker.)
Delegate Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, had been mentioned as a long-shot candidate for speaker, but again, he would have had to be putting the pieces in place during November interims.
There's a line of thought that it behooves House Republicans and conservative Democrats to keep the current leadership team in place in the event that the 2013 and '14 sessions end up in gridlock. That way they could use that to campaign for a call for change in 2014.
Wednesday's luncheon was at the Governor's Mansion, not in the party tent set up for the governor's holiday parties that started over the weekend.