State Capitol News
3:53 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

What's Behind the State Senate Leadership Change

The decision by Senate Republicans this week to replace Steve Pierce with Andy Biggs as president was due to more than just political and philosophical difference.

Pierce ran the Republican Victory Fund which doled out money this year to candidates. He annoyed some party members by taking sides in the primary. But Sen. Al Melvin said it was Pierce's decision not to provide financial help to some candidates in the general election that really caused some heartburn, resulting in the defeat of three Republicans in close races.

"It seemed to be a calculated effort for a smaller majority that might go one way rather than a larger majority, 20, that would have been good for the party," Melvin said.

But Sen. Steve Yarbrough said Pierce still would have faced opposition, regardless of the Victory Fund issue.

"Steve was probably a little more supportive of government engagement in trying to do things to improve the business climate," Yarbrough said. "Andy has a perhaps a somewhat, what should we say, a little more resistant to the activist government role."

And Yarbrough said it's not like there is a sea-change in views: While Senate Republicans chose Biggs as president, they selected John McComish as majority leader and Adam Driggs as whip, both from the more moderate wing of the caucus.