State Rep. Bill Faison stood behind a podium flanked by nine fellow Democrats to tout his jobs plan and bash Republicans for inaction on the economic front.
Faison appeared -- well -- like the leader of the House Democratic caucus. His plan to raise the sales tax 7/10ths of a penny to help hire state workers and teachers is supported by 35 Democratic lawmakers, about 70 percent of the caucus.
House Majority Leader Joe Hackney, the current caucus leader and the former speaker, said "no comment" when asked about a challenge from Faison. He also declined to comment on Faison's plan -- which doesn't have the support of Hackney or other caucus leaders.
Faison wanted the House speakership a few years ago, when he challenged Hackney, and pitched himself for the state party chairmanship, too. His political ambitions also raised speculation that he could challenge Perdue for the party's gubernatorial nomination.
The Democrats who stood at Faison's side thanked him for his leadership on the budget issue. "I want to thank Rep. Faison for keeping this on our agenda," said Rep. Marian McLawhorn at a press conference Monday morning.
Embracing the Occupy Raleigh protesters as part of his movement, Faison said "all Democrats ought to be pushing forward on this issue." As for why the House leadership didn't back his plan, he demurred comment.