RALEIGH, Jan. 27 - The representatives seated in the rear of the N.C. House on Wednesday were determined to be heard.
Twenty Republicans - 14 of them seated in the back row of the chamber - voted against Jim Black, D-Mecklenburg, as sole speaker of the House.
Black still garnered enough votes - 100 in all - to assume the role for a record-tying fourth time during the first day of the General Assembly, ending a two-year power share between the parties.
After the 2004 elections, the Democrats held a six-vote majority in the chamber, 63-57.
After one week of stalemate in 2003, the House elected two co-speakers, Black and Rep. Richard Morgan, R-Moore.
"The relationship they built up ... has given both of them some confidence that they can make (a coalition government) work," said Ferrel Guillory, director of UNC's Program on Southern Politics, Media and Public Life.
The first step to continuing this coalition government was the historic move of giving Morgan the second-in-command position - speaker pro tem.
The slot, in the past, almost always has been given to a high-ranking majority member.
"This 2005 session brings a new twist in the ribbon of coalition government," Morgan said as he accepted the post. "At its core (are) the principles that guided the 2003 chamber."