For West Virginia Legislature's equivalent of Kremlinologists, the fact that Finance Chairman Harry Keith White, D-Mingo: Judiciary Chairman Tim Miley, D-Harrison: and Delegate Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, had dinner in Charleston Thursday is of great significance.
(Note that the fourth front-runner in the speaker's race, Majority Leader Brent Boggs, D-Braxton, did not participate.)
The thought is that if White and Skaff form a coalition, they have enough votes between them to carry the speaker's race in the Democratic caucus. It's conceivable in that scenario that Skaff would be speaker, with the assurance that White stays on as the powerful Finance Committee chairman.
(Meanwhile, for those like Bill Phillips, who treat politics like a chess match and think six moves ahead, a Skaff speakership also takes him out of the 2nd District congressional race in 2014, where his friend and mentor, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, has already endorsed Nick Casey.)
Prospects of a Skaff speakership are not sitting well with many of the pro-labor progressives who are currently part of the Thompson leadership team.
To that end, House Health and Human Resources Chairman Don Perdue, D-Wayne, sent a letter to colleagues Friday in part seeking their support for his candidacy for speaker, but primarily urging them to "think clearly" in the selection of a new leader.
"Our next Speaker must deal with not only a larger, more vocal Republican contingent, but also find consensus among our own members such that our majority remains secure, viable and forward-leaning. At best, a daunting task," Perdue stated.
"Let us take our time and look deeply for that person among us best able to not only lead, but be willing to be led by the opinions of the majority," he added. "This is an opportunity we cannot afford to get wrong but, more importantly, it is a decision that cannot result in fragmentation of our body."
Finally, Friday will be a big day for the candidate who carried nine counties and got more than 73,000 votes in the 2012 presidential primary.
Keith Judd will be released from the Federal Correctional Institution in Texarkana, Texas, completing a 17 1/2-year term for extortion.
No word on if he's planning a victory tour of the state upon his release.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.