Under the Dome

Howard to challenge Stam for No. 2 post in N.C. House

A contest is emerging for the No. 2 spot in the N.C. House. Rep. Julia Howard, a 12-term veteran and committee chairwoman, said she would challenge House GOP leader Paul "Skip" Stam for the speaker pro tem job.

Howard cited her previous leadership experience as majority whip and  she would use the position to help orient the large incoming freshman class. "I have no agenda," the Mocksville Republican said.

Howard also made a point to say she has no interest in running for House speaker in 2014, when Thom Tillis is expected to relinquish the position under self-imposed term limits. "I will be totally focused," she said.

Stam, an Apex Republican, is considered as a possible speaker candidate if Republicans keep the majority. He ran unsuccessfully against Tillis in 2010. The race will likely color the next two-year session as Republicans jockey behind the scenes.

The House Republican Caucus will meet Saturday in Raleigh. A vote on speaker and other leadership positions is possible, though some may be delayed until December. Howard said her candidacy does not suggest that there is division within the caucus about its future direction.

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