Harwell, Matlock on aftermath of House Republican leadership elections

Excerpt from a Times-Free Press report on the House Republican Caucus elections, headlined by Beth Harwell’s reelection as speaker by a 40-30 vote over Rep. Jimmy Matlock:

Asked by reporters after her victory how she would bring Republicans together, Harwell replied that “Jimmy Matlock and I were sitting together and having a good conversation” after the vote.

“When you get to be the super majority, when you’re 74 members strong, of course we’re going to, we’re having competition for every one of these seats,” Harwell added. “And they’ve been close every way. You would expect that and I actually think it’s healthy.”

As for how she would address any members who feel ignored, Harwell said, “I don’t lead the caucus. I’m the speaker of the House and I think all of the members of the House feel like I’m approachable. My door is open both to Democrats and Republican members of the House of Representatives.”

…(Former House Majority Leader Gerald) McCormick said he thinks talk about discord is overstated.

“I think you’ve got some people who are determined to be unhappy,” he said. “I think in general the new caucus is going to come around to the leadership team except for those who refuse to be happy.”

McCormick said personal ambition is part of the mix, adding “it’s virtually impossible to get 70 people, many of whom are ambitious,” to agree sometimes.

For his part, Matlock said he and Harwell are friends and he’s looking forward to working “with her and the entire caucus.” But he said he “absolutely” sees “philosophical differences” leading to problems.

“When I was speaking it was more what I felt and many, many others had told me [about Harwell’s leadership], not just all the right-wingers that’s been alleged,” said Matlock, himself a staunch conservative.

“I felt frustrations throughout,” he added. “But Beth’s pretty savvy politically. I think she’ll take that news and information and go back and say where can we find some common ground here that will maybe address some of these issues. And I fully expect her to try and do that.”

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