Meet the new Speaker of the House, Chris Benge

Friday, February 8th 2008, 10:11 pm
By: News 9

By Stacey Cameron, NEWS 9

For Chris Benge, a surreal moment came Monday when he was sworn in as Speaker of the House.

He realized then, his political life was changing.

"It's still an adjustment, it's kind of hard to get use to," Benge said.

From his new seat at the front of the House of Representatives, Benge is perhaps the most powerful person inside the State Capitol.

By his admission, it's a leadership role Benge never imagined filling.

"Of course the events that occurred changed things and I have told some members in the past if somebody needed to step up I would be willing to do so," Benge said.

Benge stepped up. He ran for Speaker of the House after Lance Cargill resigned the post.

Cargill left behind a republican party deeply divided over leadership.

Under Cargill's rule, Republican House leaders were often criticized for letting political consultants like Font Holland control the Republican Party and the legislative process.

Speaker Benge says he'll stop that practice.

"He will not have any effect on our legislative decisions," Benge said. "I mean there's a clear line there that any consultant should not be a part of."

While Benge seems honest in saying the political role of consultants like Holland will be scaled back, there's a catch.

Holland is family.

Benge said Holland is his wife's cousin, but he won't let that relationship affect how he works as Speaker of the House. Benge said he can't let his opportunity be lost to controversy.

"We have too much to accomplish to much ahead of us to get hung up on doing such things," Benge said.