Thursday, December 10, 2009

Analyst: Basnight era is over

Analyst: Basnight era is over

Political analyst John Davis, who for years has gauged the business-friendly tendencies of the N.C. General Assembly, says the upcoming retirement from the legislature of Sen. David Hoyle, D-Gaston, is one more sign how much the legislature is changing -- and becoming less business oriented and more liberal.

In a post on his Web site, Davis says:

"On November 17, 2009, with the unanimous election of Sen. Martin Nesbitt (D-Buncombe) as Majority Leader of the North Carolina Senate following the suspicious resignation of long-time Majority Leader and Rules Chairman Sen. Tony Rand (D-Cumberland), the historic era of unparalleled power of Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight came to an end. A new era of Senate and House legislative leadership is beginning, an era led by seasoned urban lawyers with unquestionable liberal credentials.

"The latest signal of change came yesterday, when Sen. David Hoyle (D-Gaston), Vice Chair of Finance and the highest rated ally of business, announced that he would retire after this session. The Senate, for decades a safe harbor for North Carolina business, has gone the way of the House and is now in the hands of liberal lawyers. You can count the number of business owners among Senate Democrats on one hand."

The legislature will change with the rise of more influential liberals, he says:

"Who are these savvy urban liberal political insurgents? They include three very smart lawyers who were elected to the House for the first time nearly three decades ago: Senators Nesbitt and Dan Blue (D-Wake), and House Speaker Joe Hackney (D-Orange), along with fellow attorney and elder statesman Rep. Mickey Michaux (D-Durham), and new rising stars with law degrees like Rep. Jennifer Weiss (D-Wake), Rep. Deborah Ross (D-Wake), and Sen. Dan Clodfelter (D-Mecklenburg). Thus, the new demographic profile of emerging leaders in the North Carolina legislature is liberal urban lawyers."

Davis has been thinking about this at least since Rand announced he would leave, but he said it has been coming for a long time.

"Marc Basnight, Tony Rand and David Hoyle are three of the most dynamic legislative magnets in state history. They wielded their power over the Senate with ruthless efficiency, consolidating power so effectively that they became the most influential political force in the state. However, the little known fact outside the Raleigh beltline is that they were slowly becoming a minority in their majority caucus.

"Basnight and his inner circle were business owners who fit the classic mold that distinguished North Carolina from the rest of the South; they were business progressives. Their fatal flaw was the failure to see the value in maintaining their base of business allies by recruiting and helping elect other business Democrats. And so, imperceptibly over time, a liberal coalition of Democrats grew in number and coalesced to create its own magnetic force, a force now greater than that of the leaders."

The upshot, he says, is that the Senate is no longer a friendly place for business:

"Bottom Line: The Senate is no longer a safe harbor for business. Business, like Basnight, is simply outnumbered. Business has also met its match in building relationships with legislators with campaign contributions. Labor unions dumped over $5 million into North Carolina campaigns in 2008. Now you know why Basnight is beginning to tell his friends, “I can’t control my caucus anymore.”

I think Davis has some good points, but I can't remember a time when the legislature hasn't been generally business-friendly -- and my coverage goes back 32 years to 1977 when I first started covering the General Assembly. My guess is that lawmakers will remain open to the entreaties of business and receptive to its proposals, but won't be so quick to give business what it wants as in some sessions in the past.


JAT said...

Correction Jack, the NC GA has NEVER been "business friendly" -- it has been rent-seeker loving. Not nearly the same thing.

In fact, give me your top 5 "business friendly" laws passed in the last 20 yrs. and I'll laugh at them.

Anonymous said...

good with basnight (seafood restaurant owner and married into a commercial fishing family) losing sway maybe we can finally get some responsible fishing regulations in place so Virginia fleets don't come down to our largely unprotected waters and clean them out!

Bev Indiana said...

What, no mention of Nick Mackey? I guess the new liberal lawyer caucus is too ashamed to mention him as a protege.

moreofthesame said...

Basnight and Rand are crooks, thats probably why Rand weaseled his way into the parole board.

I can't believe he thinks Hackney is any better.

Anonymous said...

Mackey isn't welcomed by anyone at the GA. If that isn't obvious, you aren't paying attention.

Likewise, if you can't recognize the fact that the NC GA has been business friendly for decades, you lack the power of objectivity (and probably think global warming is a conspiracy theory).

Finally, there isn't an insider in the state, a capital reporter, nor a veteran of NC politics who doesn't know that Hackney is squeaky clean.

JAT said...

12:31, OK, I'll play -- Give me YOUR top 5 business friendly pieces of legislation enacted in the past 20 yrs. And no, failing to revoke the state's right to work laws does not count. Opting not to deliver the state into the hands of labor unions does not equal "business friendly."

Anonymous said...

You've already decided, JAT, so I'm not wasting my time playing patty cakes with ya.

Pick up a book sometime, willya?

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LISA said...

It's time for Basnight to go. The cronyism system that he perpetuates is sickening. Want to see how some of his contributors are benefiting from their contributions?

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