• 59°

Mooneyham column: Basnight headed for exit too?

RALEIGH ó Love him or hate him, no one will ever accuse Tony Rand of being a slacker.
For better than a decade, the Fayetteville Democrat has been the chief workhorse in the state Senate, the go-to policy guy, the bad cop to Senate leader Marc Basnight’s good cop.
On most important policy issues considered by the chamber, Rand played a role, either as bill sponsor, negotiator or shepherd.
His influence didn’t end at the Legislative Building doors. Rand advised governors on judicial appointments. He helped devise political strategy that kept Democrats in power in North Carolina even as they lost the levers of power in other Southern states.
That doesn’t mean his colleagues will shed tears over his decision to leave the legislature and head up the state Parole Commission. When you’ve got as many fingers in as many pies as Rand, you’ll make some bakers mad, no matter how bland a few of the recipes.
Typically, Rand didn’t worry about making people angry, not when a budget deal or a key piece of legislation was at stake.
But animosity can build over time. It may have played a role his decision. On at least a couple occasions, some of Rand’s fellow Democrats wanted him ousted from his post of power, majority leader. Basnight interceded on his behalf.
Rand, though, was a reporter’s dream, a quip machine who could always find a funny or pithy phrase to enliven a story.
Earlier this year, as a legislative committee began meeting to consider a controversial fix to the health insurance plan for state employees, Rand understatedly remarked, “This is a bill you may have heard a rumor about.” On the best part of a competing House budget plan, “It was a nice piece of paper.”
Once Rand announced his decision, it didn’t take long for the speculation to begin about his replacement in the Senate hierarchy.
Sen. Martin Nesbitt, a Buncombe County Democrat, emerged as the favorite after Basnight publicly endorsed him. Nesbitt was once a chief budget writer in the House, but had been on the outs with then-House Speaker Jim Black by the time he moved over to the Senate in 2004.
Sen. Dan Clodfelter, a Charlotte Democrat and co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has also become a key cog and top policy wonk in the Senate.
Rand’s decision could clear the way for his other key post, Rules Committee chair, to be given to someone other than the new majority leader.
The more significant question posed by Rand’s departure: Is Basnight’s reign as one of the most powerful politicians in state history near an end, and what would that portend for Senate leadership?
Basnight says he plans to run again in 2010. He continues to raise money. A coup-like scenario, where he is tossed aside by fellow Democrats, is highly unlikely.
But minus a Republican takeover of the chamber, one day he will decide to no longer seek its No. 1 job. Now, his longtime No. 2 is gone.

Comments

Comments closed.

Education

A.L. Brown celebrates seniors with signing day

Business

Rebounding, but not recovered: Rowan County tourism begins challenging path toward normalcy

High School

High school baseball: Padgett leads Mustangs; 100th win for West coach Graham

Coronavirus

RSS superintendent, Board of Health discuss strategies for increasing student vaccination rates

Nation/World

Gas stations report shortages as pipeline shutdown drags on

News

Lawyers: Black man didn’t drive into deputies who shot him

Nation/World

Liz Cheney says Trump and GOP backers threaten democracy

Coronavirus

Rowan Health Department clarifies county’s COVID-19 death total is 301

Landis

Landis approves new land development ordinance, zoning map

Landis

Landis approves body camera, stun gun purchase for public safety officers

Crime

One charged, another dead on sheriff’s most wanted list

Crime

No injuries after car shot eight times on Old Concord Road

Education

RSS talks first steps for new federal relief totaling $66 million

China Grove

Gary’s Barbecue staff, customers look back at 50 years

News

Salisbury Lions Club names Person of the Year, Lion of the Year at 78th annual banquet

Education

Student COVID-19 numbers show first decline since plan A

High School

High school golf: Fowler competes in state tournament

News

Amazon announces new distribution center for North Carolina

News

House passes bill to bar Cooper from mandating COVID shot

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees death 302 from COVID-19; Health Department to host final mass vaccine clinic

Ask Us

Ask Us: What happened to work on South Fulton Street home?

Crime

Blotter: Woman says she was shot in hand on Lincolnton Road

Crime

Rowan Sheriff’s Office charges Salisbury man with operating illegal gambling business

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on felony drug, breaking and entering charges