For State Senate: Richard Morgan
The Republican race for state Senate District 22 pits two former close friends and political allies against each other: incumbent Sen. Harris Blake and former House Co-speaker Richard Morgan.
Though this campaign has taken on ugly overtones, it has not been as brutal as the one in 2006, in which Joe Boylan, with the help of outside forces, toppled the once-mighty Morgan. But Morgan has strongly implied that the aging Blake is no longer up to the demands of the job and might be slipping mentally. And Blake, during an interview with The Pilot, called Morgan "stupid" and "evil."
Some voters, no doubt, would rather write "Neither of the Above" on the ballot in Tuesday's primary. But we don't have that luxury. Though we harbor misgivings about both candidates, the matter boils down to one question: Which would be the most effective? Like him or not, the answer is clearly Richard Morgan.
Blake has represented the district since 2002, serving faithfully. While few question his honesty and dedication, one has to wonder just what he has done for Moore County in the past eight years. He ranked 48th out of 50 senators last year in a recent ranking. Asked twice during the Pilot interview to list his proudest accomplishments, he could come up only with a speech he once made against the state lottery.
Blake has led efforts to strengthen trade ties between North Carolina and China - a relationship that began with the identification of the body of a pilot from High Falls shot down over China during World War II. While all of that has been heartwarming, it doesn't do much to address the many crises now facing North Carolina.
Contrast that with the record compiled by Morgan, who represented Moore County in the state House for 16 years. Granted, he can be his own worst enemy, as The Pilot pointed out in its qualified endorsement four years ago. He brought much of that year's loss on himself with the way he wielded power in Raleigh, making enemies and then ridiculing them as "nuts" and "lizards."
But he chalked up significant accomplishments despite his minority status. The hog farm moratorium he pushed through was one of the most important pieces of environmental legislation in state history. He was a staunch advocate of open government. And his clout benefited Moore County directly, as when he secured funding for the Senior Enrichment Center that remains a centerpiece of local services to the elderly.
Is Richard Morgan a bit hirsty for power? No doubt - as demonstrated by the co-speaker arrangement he worked out with Democratic Rep. Jim Black (since imprisoned for corruption), a deal that left a bad taste in many mouths. But he could pull that off only because he knew the legislature inside and out - how to use the rules and work with the other side of the aisle.
In short, he knows how to make things happen in Raleigh. We could use that again.
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