Rep. Tim Moore of Kings Mountain was nominated Saturday by fellow Republicans as speaker of the N.C. House, putting him in line to be one of the three most powerful leaders in North Carolina.
Moore scored a first ballot victory as House Republicans gathered in Asheboro to choose a successor to Thom Tillis, who was elected to the U.S. Senate.
He was one of six lawmakers, including three from the Charlotte area, running for the job.
Though the full House will elect a speaker in January, the GOP choice is the heavy favorite in a body where the party continues to have a strong majority.
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Along with Gov. Pat McCrory and Senate leader Phil Berger, both Republicans, Moore would automatically become one of the state’s most powerful elected officials.
“The Republican caucus is united and ready to continue leading,” he told reporters. “We are ready to move forward.”
In prepared statements, McCrory and Berger congratulated Moore and other newly-selected House leaders, and said they look forward to working with them. McCrory also said he planned to visit with Moore in his Kings Mountain home Sunday.
Moore won a majority of votes from the 73 GOP lawmakers that met at Randolph Community College. He beat Reps. Justin Burr of Albemarle, Mitchell Setzer of Catawba, John Blust of Greensboro, Leo Daughtry of Smithfield and Bryan Holloway of King.
Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam of Wake County was nominated as speaker pro tem. Rep. Mike Hager of Rutherford County was elected majority leader and John Bell from Wayne County, majority whip.
Huntersville Republican Charles Jeter was unopposed for conference chair, a post in which he’ll oversee campaigns and fundraising.
“Tim’s proven leadership and dedication to all the citizens of North Carolina will be well-served in the coming two years and I wish him and all of my fellow legislators well,” Tillis said in a statement Saturday.
Moore, 44, grew up in Kings Mountain. He went to Campbell University before transferring to UNC Chapel Hill, where he would graduate.
He returned home to practice law. He got involved in the community, and in 1997 was appointed to the UNC Board of Governors.
He first won office in 2002, defeating Democratic Rep. Andy Dedmon, then House Majority Whip. After Tillis and Republicans took over in 2011, Moore’s influence rose.
In 2013, he ranked second to Tillis in effectiveness, according to rankings by the nonpartisan N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.
He chairs the influential Rules Committee, which helps determine the fate of most legislation.
He spent more than any candidate to help fellow Republicans this year. He outraised the other five candidates for speaker and gave $253,750 to other candidates, more than twice as much as his nearest rival.
In brief remarks to reporters, Moore said he does not favor an expansion of Medicaid, the health care program for the poor. McCrory and Tillis both have said the state should consider expansion.
Asked how he differs from his predecessor, Moore said that while Tillis came from a corporate background, his style is that of a small-town businessman.
Rep.-elect John Bradford of Cornelius was chosen freshman whip, while newly elected John Fraley of Mooresville was elected freshman leader.
Jeter told reporters that his new job will be overseeing the 2016 elections, “which started about 5 minutes ago,” he said.