The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

October 26, 2013

Berger stays on same track as Basnight

Saturday, October 26, 2013 — RALEIGH — In the fuss over a federal government shutdown and the various messes within the state’s health agency, the decision by state Senate leader Phil Berger to pass on a bid for U.S. Senate became little more than a speed bump in the recent run of political news.

It’s understandable.

With government benefits cut off, federal workers sent home and parks closed, the effects of a government shutdown are being immediately felt. When doctors are not paid for rendering service, then they, their employees and their patients suffer.

Still, these things will hopefully pass.

Berger’s decision, on the other hand, may have consequences for some time to come.

In this era of highly-polarized politics, Republicans don’t care much for being compared to Democrats and Democrats aren’t happy with comparisons to Republicans.

Even so, that Berger, a Republican, has decided to remain a big fish in the smaller pond of North Carolina politics means that he will inevitably be compared to that biggest of fish whom he succeeded, Democrat Marc Basnight.

Basnight owned the role of the state’s most influential and powerful politician for better than a decade.

There are variety of reasons to explain that rise to and consolidation of power: his own unique brand of populism; legislative actions that stripped the lieutenant governor of Senate power after a Republican, Jim Gardner, won the post; a run in office that paralleled the growing importance of money in legislative races and the role of top legislative leaders in raising that money.

Berger obviously inherits the same powers and the same role as a conduit for campaign cash that flows to his fellow GOP senators.

His decision to forego the U.S. Senate race did not come as a surprise in Raleigh political circles, although his interest may have been more significant than many political insiders believed.

Now that he has done so, Berger sets the stage for a long run leading the one of two chambers in a state legislature that has historically wielded more power than the state’s governors.

Even if Republicans suffer from political backlash to their legislative overreaching, the GOP appears to have a firm grip on the state Senate at least through the current decade.

Meanwhile, Berger, like Basnight during his final decade in power, sits in the job while a governor flounders and as a leadership change looms in the state House.

The Republican rank-and-file may not like the comparison, but it would be hard to believe that Berger and his chief lieutenant, Senate Rules Committee chair Tom Apodaca, have not contemplated the parallels with Basnight and his No. 2, Tony Rand.

There may never be another Marc Basnight.

But at this point, it would be more surprising to see Berger’s reign and power short-circuited than it would be to see him take a long-leashed run as the state’s top political dog.

Scott Mooneyham is a syndicated columnist for Capitol Press Association and covers activities of the N.C. Legislature.

1
Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    NEW YORK - Economists love hamburgers. Specifically fast-food burgers. This is partly because all right-thinking human beings love ground meat on a bun, but it's also because the sandwich makes a handy yardstick for international financial comparisons. The ingredients and labor involved in preparing a Big Mac are pretty much the same no matter where you are in the world, so by looking at how many hours of toiling it takes a worker to earn enough to purchase one, you can get a sense of how wages really stack up across countries. The Economist famously created the Big Mac index in 1986 to see which currencies were overvalued. It started as a joke. Now, as the magazine proudly notes, it's a subject of academic study.

    April 22, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    WASHINGTON - What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 22, 2014

  • Doug Creamer All in the Family

    We had a family get-together at my brother’s house on Easter Sunday. It’s hard to get our family together because we are spread out, especially when you consider nieces and nephews. My parents and siblings all made the gathering this year. Some of my nieces and nephews are far away, but they all remember gathering at my brother’s house for the holidays. Easter is known for the Jell-O eggs and the famous Easter egg hunt.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 19, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    WASHINGTON - The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 19, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Obama's equal pay exaggeration leads us all into danger

    The president's claims of national shame over gender-based pay inequity spring from distorted calculations, as well as some convenient political math.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 12, 2014

  • Brent Laurenz If you want to vote in primary, you need to register to vote now

    RALEIGH – North Carolina voters will head to the polls on May 6 this year to cast ballots in important primary elections across the state.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scott Mooneyham Heeding the voter fraud call in N.C.

    RALEIGH – Legislators found the findings outrageous.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Roots

    I took a few minutes over the weekend to enjoy our yard and the arrival of spring. There seems to be so much work that needs to be done, it is hard to decide what to do first. I am excited that I got to run my tiller through the garden. I didn’t go very deep, but I did at least break up the soil. I have a couple of raised beds and the soil in them was in very good shape. I didn’t plant my peas and now after the big rain we got on Monday I realize that I missed a window of opportunity.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content