LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Members of the Arkansas House have ousted Darrin Williams of Little Rock as speaker-designate, failing to give him the 51 votes necessary to keep the job.
Republicans hold a 51-48-1 edge over Democrats and the Green Party after winning control of the chamber for the first time since Reconstruction.
Williams defeated Republican Rep. Terry Rice of Waldron for the speaker's post last spring, when Democrats controlled the lower chamber. Rice is being considered for the leadership post again, but Democrats say they would prefer GOP Rep. Davy Carter of Cabot.
Williams made an impassioned plea to colleagues who attended Thursday's organizational meeting. He said he is "much more than a party label" and that representatives shouldn't split along party lines. He would have been Arkansas' first black house speaker.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)