Skip to comments.THERE IS NO REPUBLICAN PARTY IN THE NC HOUSE
Posted on 12/18/2003 3:23:20 AM PST by Huber
Republican candidates for seats in the North Carolina House won approximately 53% of the total vote statewide in the 2002 elections. Democrat candidates won approximately 43% of the vote with Libertarians picking up the other 4%. Despite this big advantage at the ballot box, the way that the districts were drawn enabled Republicans to capture control of the House by only a slim 61 to 59 majority. These election results were abruptly cancelled when Rep. Mike Decker of Forsyth County switched to the Democrats shortly before the session began and a small group of Republicans, led by Rep. Richard Morgan of Moore County, conspired to leave the Democrats firmly in charge of the House, although there is the facade of a co-Speakership that created the illusion of power sharing and bi-partisan cooperation.
Loss of control of the House because of the Decker switch and the Morgan treachery meant that the entire Republican agenda of lower taxes and control of wasteful spending through budget reforms such as zero-based budgeting were dead for the session. These were issues that virtually every Republican candidate campaigned on and which a majority of the voters voted for in the last election. The deal that the Democrats made with Morgan included concessions on important policy issues such as support for tax increases in North Carolina for a third year in a row. The Democrats maintained effective control of the House because their deal with Morgan left them with sole control of the Rules committee, whose chairman sets the calendar of House business each day and refers the bills that are introduced to the various committees.
Once the deal between Morgan and the Democrats was sealed, the Republican caucus in the House effectively ceased to exist. All the decisions for the Republican side were made behind closed doors by Morgan and his small band of confidants rather than in the Republican caucus, as is the usual practice. The caucus is the meeting of all the members of a party to plan and discuss strategy. Normally, there are periodic caucuses by both parties and special caucuses when important issues like the budget come before the House. After the Morgan deal with the Democrats, there were no further meetings of the Republican caucus for the rest of the entire session, except on two very scripted and time-limited occasions. The Republican Party ceased to exist in the House, except for a small band of about 20 loyal Republicans who would not cave in to Morgan and his vindictive pressure tactics.
The Democrats did give Morgan charge of all Republican patronage matters such as office and seat assignments, committee appointments and other such things. But the biggest stick that Morgan had over Republican members was final say in drawing the Republican districts in the re-districting plan that members knew all session long would be taken up at some point by the legislature this year!
Morgan stated openly in the Raleigh press that loyalty to him was more important than anything, even competence. He always made it clear that he would reward those loyal to him and punish those who did not obey him. Morgan successfully used the re-districting process as a weapon to get several Republican members to capitulate and become his loyalists. With sophisticated computer mapping, a legislator can be drawn into a district that legislator cannot possibly win. Even when Democrats control the drawing of the districts, there will still have to be a good many districts that are so overwhelmingly Republican that a Republican incumbent in the district will be safe from a challenge from any Democrat. Morgan was able to corral the votes of some Republican members who did not initially support his coup by letting them know that he would be drawing their new districts.
After the regular session ended on July 20 with no action on re-districting, several months went by during which Morgan loyalists gave input into what precincts they wanted in their own districts. Rumors flew as to who was down in Raleigh cutting back room deals with Morgan to achieve their own dream districts and who would be cut out by Morgan in retaliation. There was a constant refrain from Morgan and his minions that none of this was going on and that there was no plan. This phony line was used up through the early afternoon on the Monday before Thanksgiving when the legislature was called into special session on very short notice to pass new district maps.
Republican members finally got to see the details of the redistricting plan a mere forty- five minutes before a hasty vote was held. No debate or amendments were permitted on this critical matter! The House redistricting plan passed by a vote of 84 to 32. None of the members voting for the plan could possibly have known very much about what they voted for! There simply wasnt sufficient time for anyone to know. (Few House members can claim otherwise because so many denied earlier in the day having seen any plan and most of the plan supporters voted to call the question so that no one else could study the bill either). Most voted for the plan because they received districts that were personally good for themselves. Never mind what the plan does to the state and its people. Never mind that citizens or local leaders got no chance to see how their communities were being treated. The prevalent attitude was I got my safe seat and I dont care about anything else.
No Republican caucus was ever held to allow all House Republicans advance notice or any input into the development of the re-districting plan. The leading Republican experts who have examined the plan in detail since it was enacted have said that it significantly shortchanges Republicans and that it will be very difficult for Republicans to capture control of the House if the plan withstands court challenge. Given voting trends in North Carolina, fair, even-handed, and constitutional districts would likely result in Republicans controlling 66 to 70 seats in the NC House. But Morgan does not want Republicans to control the House or his own power will be gone. Those House Republicans who voted with Morgan for the plans in essence were content to remain in the minority in the House as long as they got a safe seat for themselves.
Anyone who has ever played a team sport or participated in any organization in which a group of people works together to accomplish a group objective knows that the group objective must take precedence over individual objectives or the group objective will never be accomplished. No one likes being on a team with a teammate who puts his individual interest ahead of the teams. But several Republicans in the NC House shamelessly put their individual interests ahead of the interests of their teammates and the people who put them in the legislature.
The one thing that gets totally lost by politicians in the re-districting process is that the seats do not ultimately belong to the politicians they belong to the people. Despite the best efforts of the politicians to cut the people out of the process, the people still get the ultimate say in who occupies the seat if they seize the opportunity. In the safe districts, that ultimate say can still occur in the party primaries something the Republicans who abandoned party and principle and went blindly along with Morgan seemed to have forgotten. Dont be surprised if an awful lot of Republican voters are going to make the final decision on the fate of those Republican House members who selfishly put their own interests ahead of the teams in the primary elections next year! Someone who cannot put the interests of the team first on the most important vote of the entire decade should not get to stay on the team!
An important point. If the voters re-elect incumbents who have failed to represent their interests, then the voters are idiots. Unfortunately, the politicians count on the voters' being idiots.
I need to check out my state rep., so as not to be an idiot!
I don't even live there, I'm irate reading this. If I lived in Decker or Morgan's district, I'd run against him in a primary.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.