Pinewild Factor in House Race
On April 2, 2004, Richard Morgan held a rally at a home in Pinewild Country Club. Pinewild was one of his strongholds.
Pinewild, which is part of Pinehurst A precinct, went heavily for Morgan two years ago when he faced Peggy Crutchfield in a heated Republican primary election.
On May 2, Pinewild went heavily for his opponent, Pine-hurst hair salon owner Joe Boylan, possibly swinging the election. Pine-wild is fighting the village of Pinehurst to annex the gated country club community off N.C. 211.
Boylan supports Pinewild's efforts to change a state law allowing municipalities to annex an area against the will of the residents, especially if they already receive most of the services a town would normally offer. They have argued that they essentially have all of the services the village could offer, so there would be no benefit to them.
Some Pinewild residents are bragging about taking down Morgan.
In 2004, Morgan won the precinct 425 to 273, a margin of 152 votes. This year, he lost it 487 to 365, a margin of 122 votes. It represents a vote swing of 274.
According to the official results, Boylan defeated Morgan by 291 votes.
Last year, an anti-annexation group sought Morgan's help and felt rebuffed, according to John Boesch, one of the leaders of the group. He wrote a letter asking for Morgan's assistance.
The group claims that most of the residents of Pinewild oppose annexation. Boylan meanwhile made it clear that he is against involuntary annexation in all instances.
Pinehurst agreed to delay annexation until 2008, but it plans to go ahead when that time comes. Those opposing the annexation have few options. Besides legal action, they could ask the General Assembly to change the law on involuntary, or forced, annexations.
Boylan said he spoke to Pinewild residents but hasn't made any promises. He said that theoretically he would support legislation to put a moratorium on involuntary annexations so a study could be conducted, exactly what Pinewild asked of Morgan.
"Forced annexation is wrong," Boylan said. "It's fundamentally wrong. ... A temporary fix is better than no fix at all."
During the campaign, the annexation issue hardly came up. Boylan and Morgan seemed preoccupied with talking about outside influences.
Morgan accused Boylan of being a puppet of Wake County businessman Art Pope and the state Republican Party. He pointed out that Pope and the state GOP donated more than half of the $100,000 Boylan raised. Pope's businesses also donated about $100,000 to an anti-Morgan group that sent out mailers.
Boylan countered by saying that the vast majority of Morgan's $700,000 political war chest came from special interests groups, lobbyists and political action committees from outside Moore County.
Morgan, despite drawing the ire of his fellow Republicans, was the most powerful elected Republican in the state and former co-speaker of the House. He is currently speaker pro tem.
Boylan attributed his victory to his campaign strategy of visiting prospective voters at their homes and listening to their concerns. Morgan won't comment other than pointing out that the election is over.
"The election was (May 2)," Morgan said through campaign chair John Harris.
Morgan has yet to call to congratulate his opponent.
With all the talk of outside influence, Pinewild may have been overlooked. Boylan was outspoken in his opposition to involuntary annexation. Morgan was not.
"It does appear that precinct A was very instrumental in the outcome," said Boesch, organizer of StTOP (Stop the Taking Of Pinewild), an anti-annexation group.
Boesch has been crusading against the annexation since the village began discussing it. He sent a letter to Morgan asking him to support proposed legislation that would place a moratorium on involuntary annexation so that the law could be studied. North Carolina law allows annexation against the wishes of residents only if the community meets the required population density. Pinewild meets the criteron.
In the letter, Boesch reminded Morgan that Pinewild makes up a substantial part of one of the precincts that helped Morgan gain election. Morgan won eight of the 24 precincts in 2004, but they were the precincts in Pinehurst (he won all four) and Southern Pines.
At the time of Boesch's letter, The Pilot, in an editorial, criticized it as a threat. It wasn't, Boesch said.
"All I did was forecast what was going to happen," he said.
Morgan responded to Boesch's letter by saying that there was nothing he could do.
"It stretched credibility," Boesch said, "if the speaker pro tem can't get a bill out of committee. Then why do you need a senior politician, if a freshman can have the same rate of success?"
Yet Morgan doesn't believe that the Pinewild annexation issue had any effect on the election's outcome.
"Not at all," Morgan said once again through Harris.
Boylan, when asked if Pinewild won the election for him, measured his response carefully.
"Obviously, without the rest of the support I received throughout the county, I wouldn't have won," he said. "Pinehurst A is more than just Pinewild. I also won (Pinehurst) B1 and a lot of other areas. But their (Pinewild voters') contribution is important."
Pinehurst A is the fastest-growing one in the county. The voter registration in July 2004, when the last primary was held, was 3,379. For the election May 2, registration was 3,796, according to the county elections board. That means there were an additional 417 potential voters.
Pinewild makes up less than half of the precinct.
This year, there were 2,117 voters inside the Pinehurst village limits. There were 1,482 outside the limits, and the precinct extends far past Pinewild in the direction of Foxfire, though not all of the voters are Republicans or independents. Democrats cannot vote in Republican primaries.
In 2006, there were 437 Republican voters in Pinehurst A who were outside the village limits and 86 unaffiliated voters outside the city limits. There were 852 total votes cast in Pinehurst A.
Likely, the theory that Pinewild proved to be Morgan's "Waterloo" will remain a theory.
Matthew Moriarty may be reached at 693-2479 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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