Ruling the House: Michigan Speakers Reveal What the Job Is Really Like

 Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas

Dome Magazine, 1/16/11

The job, if we’re being honest, is a meat grinder.

Sure, you’re lavished with an exquisite chandeliered office, a fancy title and a really big gavel. But you also have the headache of managing hundreds of staff, a couple dozen legislative committees, thousands of bills and 109 other lawmakers clamoring for both your attention and the media spotlight.

“Being speaker of the House of Representatives is one of the most challenging jobs in Lansing, if not the most challenging,” said House Clerk Gary Randall, who’s just entered his fifth decade in the institution. “I’m sure the governor or the Senate majority leader would take issue with that. But the speaker has 110 people to keep focused.”

“The Number One thing a speaker needs to know how to do is count votes, no matter if it’s becoming speaker or passing bills,” says Rick Johnson, a lobbyist with Dodak, Johnson & Associates. “…You don’t create a lot of friends, but you do create a lot of enemies.”

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