In North Carolina and Indiana, once-formidable Republican legislative leaders lost primary contests yesterday. Richard Morgan, the former speaker of the North Carolina House fell after his own party mounted an offensive against him, upset that Morgan had cut deals with Democrats to remain in power -- even though it meant leaving other Republicans out in the cold. The (Raleigh) News-Observer reports:
Morgan, a 53-year-old insurance agent and cattle rancher, has been a lightning rod in Republican circles since 2003, when he formed a power-sharing arrangement with Democratic House Speaker Jim Black. The move came when the House was deadlocked 60/60 between Democrats and Republicans.
The move resulted in an increasingly bitter feud among House Republicans -- many of whom were locked out of power -- over redistricting, budgets, taxes and even staff.
The importance of the feud potentially reaches far beyond who will represent Moore County. It could affect Republicans' ability to retake the state House, where Democrats now hold a 63-57 margin. North Carolina is one of three Southern states where Democrats control the legislature. And it could affect Democratic Gov. Mike Easley's ability to get his programs through the legislature.
North Carolina Republican leaders had sought to purge legislators they viewed as party renegades.
Meanwhile, Indiana Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Garton was shown the door after 36 years in the chamber after sticking up for a number of unpopular items. He backed the move to daylight savings time, supported Gov. Mitch Daniels' tollway leasing plan and promoted a plan to give legislators life-long health benefits even if they'd only served a single term. Pro-life groups also blamed him for not allowing a fetal pain measure to get to the floor this spring.
The Indianapolis Star says that won't be Garton's only legacy, though, noting that Garton was known for backing legislation promoting civil rights, women's rights and rights for the disabled. While Garton's case was unique, Hoosiers are venting their frustration with lawmakers, the Star notes.
In the Statehouse, Republican incumbent lawmakers faced the toughest elections as they squared off against opponents who seized on unpopular votes cast on daylight-saving time and a proposal to lease the Indiana Toll Road.Rep. Mary Kay Budak of LaPorte lost, and Reps. Richard McClain of Logansport and Don Lehe of Brookston won close races.
Still, Star columnist Matt Tully doesn't show a lot of sympathy for Garton, saying the senator lost touch with his constituents:
[Garton] ran ads that sought to convince voters he was just Bob, an average guy looking out for his people.That message was a loser.Garton made clear months ago, when he dug in on the health-care issue, that his people were the men and women who sat around him in the Senate's leather chairs.He won't be sitting in his chair much longer. But at least he still has his lifetime health-care benefit.