Many people believe that the second most powerful position in state government, right behind the governor, is the speaker of the house. I don't really disagree with that assessment and the race for speaker in 2009 has been hot and heavy for quite a while. The four announced candidates are Rep. David Cook (D)-Williford, Rep. David Dunn (D)- Forrest City, Rep. David Rainey (D)-Dumas and Rep. Robbie Wills (D)- Conway. I believe all four are good candidates and I like each one personally. The speaker election which is voted on by the 100 member House of Representatives, will take place on January 8th, 2008 in the House chamber. A great many of the House members have already committed to one of the four candidates and I have gone on record in supporting David Cook as the next speaker.
As I said, I believe all to be quality candidates, and my reasons for supporting Rep. Cook are many. First of all, I think David Cook is one of the premier education experts in all of state government. He reached out to this freshman legislator early on and included me in his Tuesday morning educational caucus. It was a great learning experience and allowed me an opportunity to absorb some of his passion and committment to our state. As a retired educator, David has effectively led thousands of young people and personnel in his years as a teacher, principal and Superintendent. I believe that background will provide him all the tools and insight needed to lead a pretty diverse group of 99 representatives.
His leadership style is low key, but organized and effective. Now don't think for a moment that this Vietnam veteran is some type of wallflower who doesn't speak his mind. I recall him standing awfully tall during the charter school debate, and that proved to me a willingness to fight for what he believes in. I consider that a very admirable trait. I also like the way he handles himself under pressure. The fact that he always kept his composure during a hot topic or debate, indicates to me an ability to handle the heat sure to come his way as speaker.
David has also been a successful businessman who knows the ins and outs of budgeting and priortizing needs. Most of all, I like his thoughtfulness on complex issues and the understanding that everything is not always as black and white as it seems. That quality enables him to always dig a little deeper before making tough decisions. In the end, they are all fine men, but I think David Cook is a natural leader who will make an excellent Speaker of the House.