Outgoing Speaker of the House Takes Local GOP Seat

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GOP leaders unanimously selected Speaker of the House, Allan Bense to serve as the chairman of the Bay County Republican Party. He's replacing interim chairwoman, Thelma Rohan.

He says his top priorities right now are to focus on the election and afterward, he'll continue the efforts to get Republicans into office at every level.

"We're working hard, campaigning, going door to door, making phone calls and getting people out to vote, so we're focused for the next right days and when the elections are over, we'll take a look at the larger picture and what's going to happen in the '08 election cycle."

After serving as the Bay County GOP leader, he says things could go further, onto a state level.

"If the party asked me to be chairman, I would certainly work toward it, and I'd serve my party if need be, and it'd be interesting; it's a presidential year in 2008, so it certainly has intrigue, but only if they would like for me to do that."

Speaker Bense also commented on Representative Ralph Arza's racial slurs he left on a colleague’s voicemail, saying it was "despicable." He says he has also formed a select committee to look into the remarks.

"The hearing Representative Arza is going to have will be fair. He'll be able to attend and defend himself. It's America, and you do get your day in court no matter what the crime. But they're voicemails with the most offensive word, and it doesn't get with me. And he's going to feel my pain."

Bense may have declined a run for the US Senate seat, but he's won a seat closer to home that will keep him in politics for quite a while.