WEB: Richard Morgan Files for State Post
Former state Rep. Richard Morgan has thrust himself back into politics, but he is not trying to win back his old N.C. House seat.
Just before noon on Friday, Morgan filed as a candidate for state superintendent of public instruction. He had risen to become the most powerful Republican in North Carolina, serving as co-speaker of the state House in 2003-2004, until members of his own party brought him down in the primary election two years ago.
"I am seeking election to the office of superintendent of public instruction because our kids are just too important to not have a strong advocate working for them at the Department of Public Instruction," Morgan said in a news release. "And it is equally important they have someone fighting for them at the General Assembly. I spent 16 years in the State House. I know how the General Assembly operates, how to pass legislation, how to pass a budget and how to work across the aisle. All of this I plan to put to work for our children."
Morgan has been out of political office since losing his re-election bid to Joe Boylan, a Pinehurst Republican, in a brutal GOP primary in 2006. Boylan went on to defeat two unaffiliated challengers in the general election.
Boylan, who is seeking re-election this year, received a tremendous amount of outside help in his bid to topple Morgan. Leaders of the state Republican Party came to Moore County to campaign openly for Boylan.
Morgan brought down the wrath of the state party in 2003 when he cut a power-sharing deal with Democrats that made him and Jim Black the first co-speakers in state history. At that time, the House was evenly split 60-60 among Democrats and Republicans, when then-Rep. Michael Decker defected from the GOP. Morgan parlayed a handful of votes from his most loyal Republican allies to work out a deal with Democrats.
Morgan's critics said he punished his political enemies, taking away some of their secretaries and relegating some to tiny, windowless basement offices. He was also accused of voting for budgets with billions of dollars in tax increases and supporting a redistricting plan that hurt Republicans. He vehemently denied those charges.
The state party basically declared war on Morgan during the 2006 primary. But Morgan continually countered that his power-sharing arrangement helped Republicans and that he was an effective representative for Moore County.
Wife Also a Candidate
Last year, Black, a Mecklenburg County Democrat and once the most influential politician in North Carolina, was convicted on state and federal corruption charges stemming from investigations into campaign finances. He is now serving time in a federal prison.
Morgan was subpoenaed as a witness in the case. Investigators wanted information from Morgan on Black's efforts to pursuade Decker to switch, as well as a $100,000 contribution from a small Virginia tobacco company to a nonprofit political Morgan formed. His former chief of staff, Sabra Faires, was also subpoenaed.
Morgan has insisted that he has done nothing wrong.
Morgan was first elected to the House in 1990. During that time, he served on the Education Committee, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, and as vice chairman of the House Finance Committee, chairman of the House Rules Committee, House minority leader and chairman of the House Financial Institutions Committee. He was serving as speaker pro tem during his final two years.
After leaving office, Morgan said he planned to spend more time on his Eagle Spring farm and that he wanted to lose weight, which he has done. He also owns an insurance company.
His wife, Cindy, won election as county commissioner in November 2006. She filed this year as a candidate for state Senate. She will challenge state Sen. Harris Blake of Pinehurst in GOP a primary contest. Blake and Richard Morgan were once close political allies.
Richard Morgan also made it clear last year that he was never too far away from the political scene. Rumors have swirled for sometime that he would run for public office. Some thought he would seek a rematch with Boylan. There had also been speculation that Morgan might seek a Council of State office.
Has GOP Opposition
He is one of three Republicans running for state superintendent of public instruction. The others are Joe Johnson of Tryon and Eric Smith of Reidsville. Two Democrats have filed: incumbent June Atkinson and Eddie Davis of Durham.
In his news release announcing his candidacy, Morgan pointed out that last July, Gov. Mike Easley signed a budget that included more than $7.7 billion for the Department of Public Instruction this year, including a billion-dollar increase in education spending at all levels.
"However, more money is not the only answer," Morgan said. "We need to ensure we are preparing our children for life after school, and right now we are failing them. According to a January 2008 report from the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, North Carolina receives a D-plus grade for K-12 achievement. That is not good enough for me, but more importantly it's not good enough for our children. I will work day and night to improve that grade.
"My plan for the department is very simple. I will work every day, all day for our children. To do anything less would be wrong."
Contact David Sinclair at 693-2462 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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