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DeRoche to be new GOP House speaker

Published November 11, 2004

LANSING (AP) — Republicans who will control the Michigan
House for a fourth consecutive term in January formally elected
Rep. Craig DeRoche as the next House speaker yesterday.

DeRoche, who two years ago was a member of the Novi City
Council, will become the head of the 110-member House in January.
That’s when the GOP majority will drop by five from 63-47 to
58-52 then based on Nov. 2’s elections.

DeRoche, 34, was elected to his second two-year term this month.
He will be the second consecutive speaker elected after serving
only one term.

House Speaker Rick Johnson (R-LeRoy), was first elected to the
job in 2000 at the end of his first term. He was re-elected in 2002
after helping Republicans pick up five seats. Johnson
couldn’t run for re-election this year because of term
limits.

DeRoche said he’s going to focus on improving the
state’s struggling economy and cutting government spending.
He also said he’s committed to working with Democratic Gov.
Jennifer Granholm.

“I plan to work with the governor, I don’t think
there’s any need for us to aggressively, politically divide
the parties that could hurt the state of Michigan,” he said
at yesterday night’s private leadership elections.

DeRoche appears to be the youngest House speaker since Midland
County’s Gilbert Currie, who was 30 when he took the job in
1913, according to information compiled by House Republicans. He
also may be the first speaker from Oakland County since 1867, House
Republicans said.

DeRoche picked up enough support from his House GOP colleagues
in the weeks before this month’s general election to win the
speaker’s post.

A few other Republicans campaigned to be the next speaker,
including Bill Huizenga of Zeeland and Mike Nofs of Battle Creek.
But they dropped out of the race when support for DeRoche grew.

DeRoche’s bid to be the next speaker got a big boost a few
months ago when a few conservative Republicans, including Scott
Hummel of DeWitt and Leon Drolet of Macomb County’s Clinton
Township, announced their support.

“I like Craig’s philosophy,” Hummel said.
“He’s going to give the committee chairmen the
authority to run bills. That hasn’t always been the model.
… Some members feel irrelevant.”

Drolet said House Republicans are looking to DeRoche to stand up
to popular Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and fight harder than
Johnson for Republican ideals, including lower taxes and less
government.

“We need to do a better job at saying ‘no’ and
proposing alternatives,” Drolet said. “This is an
important moment for Republicans. If we don’t do a lot of
things right, we could take a hit in two years and possibly lose
the majority. I think Craig is the right guy to put us in the right
direction.”

House Republicans also were expected to decide yesterday on the
caucus’s No. 2 position. Reps. Chris Ward of Brighton and
Gary Newell of Saranac campaigned to be the Republicans’ next
floor leader, who helps set the agenda in the House and runs bills
in the chamber.

House Democrats voted last week to re-elect House Minority
Leader Dianne Byrum of Onondaga as their leader after she led the
caucus to a five-seat pickup in the election.


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