Friday, November 17, 2006

Sheriff of the N.C. House steps aside

For months, political prognosticators have figured that House Speaker Jim Black’s four-term tenure in the leadership was coming to an end. The various state and federal investigations of his allies and the guilty please of several have eroded what support remained for a fifth term as speaker if he was reelected.
Now comes word from the Observer’s David Ingram that veteran Republican Joe Kiser, the House GOP leader in recent years, is also planning on stepping down. “Four years is enough,” Kiser told the Observer.
You may not know much about Kiser, who many members still call Sheriff Kiser from his days as Lincoln County sheriff. But he might have been elected speaker himself in 2003 when Republicans won the House back in the 2002 election and held a slim advantage with 61 Republicans and 59 Democrats. That was before Republican Mike Decker switched parties to help Black stay in power, creating a 60-60 tie and forcing the political stalemate that resulted in a co-speakership with Black and Republican Richard Morgan of Moore County.
If Decker hadn’t switched, it’s not clear who would have won. Rep. Leo Daughtry, a Johnston Republican, was a leading but controversial candidate; the GOP caucus finally got behind Rep. George Holmes of Yadkin County.
For a time, though, some observers thought Kiser would be a logical choice. He’s smart – he majored in physics at Lenoir Rhyne, for crying out loud – and experienced, having been sheriff for five years, vice chair of the Lincoln County board of commissioners for three years and in the legislature since 1995. He might have been able to keep the peace.
It probably wasn’t all that much fun for Kiser to try to work with warring factions of his own party in recent years. There was a sharp split between newcomer Republicans who wanted to get things done and cooperated with the Morgan-Black alliance, and other Republicans who disliked Morgan’s and his followers’ willingness to work with Democrats and wanted them out.
Kiser is stepping aside for new leadership in minority ranks. It appears that Republicans will have 68 Democrats and 52 Republicans – five more Democrats, five fewer Republicans than this past session. Rep. Paul Stam of Wake is likely the leading candidate to replace Kiser. But Sheriff Kiser won reelection to his House seat and will still be there to offer his steady advice and, from time to time, keep the peace.

12 comments:

David McKnight said...

It's good that Joe Kiser will still be on hand to help guide the General Assembly in its work in the new session even as he leaves his leadership position at this juncture. So often we see or read that a representative at the state or federal level who has achieved a leadership position in a state legislature or in the Congress chooses to retire altogether from constituent service once a decision has been made to relinquish a key party leadership post.

But Kiser's knowledge of the realities of local governmental needs has served him well as a leader on the state legislative scene in Raleigh, and he has built an important bridge for concerned Republicans and Democrats alike in Lincoln County in the 21st Century to maintain an important regional civic and political presence in the Western Piedmont for their county and state in the tradition of Congressman Charles R. Jonas, who was first elected to Congress from Lincoln County in 1952 just before Harry Truman handed over the keys to ther White House to Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Meanwhile, both the press and the political parties can continue to learn from the brief but productivre partnership forged amidst the swirling seas of political controversy by Reps. Jim Black and Richard Morgan across party lines. So often we read on the editorial pages that greater bipartisan coopeation within the political ranks could result in better legislation and greater service to the public ar large, but Morgan wound up facing not only hostility within the N.C. GOP but also indifference or outright opposition from some editorialists for having been willing to establish a dual speakership in the first place.

Thus while Lincoln County's Rep. Joe Kiser may have missed a turn at bat in the Speaker's box, his more traditional outlook toward party legislative strategies may yet yield important benefits to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the N.C. House of Representatives in 2007.

Anonymous said...

I am so Glad BUSH ruined the Republican party to the point even Conservatives left the party; They should reinvent the party with People who spek the truth and not "HOGWASH" Why during the last six years of Bushs control I have never seen this much corruption in my 48 years. I do say Bush makes the Monica Lewinski Incident look like high school prank. I cnat believe his party went along with this.

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