From my colleague Angela Couloumbis:
Rep. Dwight Evans (D., Phila.) said O’Brien’s ascent to speaker only came together in the last three days.
He said Rep. Josh Shapiro (D., Montgomery) first approached O’Brien about the job on New Year’s Eve, and that initially, O’Brien was hesitant about being nominated by Democrats.
So on New Year’s Day, Evans said he and other top Democratic leaders met with O’Brien at the Marriott in West Conshohocken for three hours. Gov. Rendell later got on the phone. The meeting resumed today at the governor’s mansion in Harrisburg, and later at Evans’ office.
“I think in the beginning, Denny didn’t know how to view it – he’s been a registered Republican for the last 30 years,” Evans said. “He was concerned about the people who had been loyal to him, but at the same time, he knew things had to change.”
The negotiations were so last-minute, Evans said, that most rank-and-file Democrats had no idea that leadership intended to nominate O’Brien when the full House convened shortly after noon to vote on a speaker. So he and other Democrats worked the floor to shore up the votes.
Because he is smart and fair, Evans said, adding that it was clear that neither DeWeese nor Perzel had the votes to become speaker. And, Evans added, Democrats were outraged that Perzel had managed to pick off at least one Democrat to vote for him for speaker.
“The outrage you sensed – for us to nominate a Republican – grew out of a sense of injustice. A sense that Perzel had gone too far,” Evans said.