Morgan Files for State Insurance Commissioner
Former state Rep. Richard Morgan filed Tuesday as a Republican candidate for state insurance commissioner.
In 2008, Morgan lost to Democratic incumbent June Atkinson for state superintendent of public instruction. He said Tuesday that he thought about running for that post again as well as lieutenant governor.
“My heart is in education, but my experience lies in insurance,” said Morgan, who owns an insurance agency. “My advisers told me to stick with what I know best. I thought this was the best fit. I have a different outlook now. I am not interested in the legislature.”
Elsewhere on the political filing front, two candidates from Moore County have now filed for the 2nd Congressional District.
Democrat Steve Wilkins, of Southern Pines, filed this week. He is one of two Democrats and three Republicans hoping to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers. Clement F. Munno filed earlier as a Republican candidate.
And Republican County Commissioner Nick Picerno has a Democratic challenger. Ellen Marcus filed to oppose him for the District 2 seat.
Morgan contends that had it not been for President Obama’s coattails in 2008, he very likely would be “running the N.C. Department of Public Instruction” and Pat McCrory would be governor. Morgan won a three-way Republican primary before losing to Atkinson by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent.
“This is more about identification and name recognition,” Morgan said of his optimism about winning the insurance commissioner post. “I have as much name identification as McCrory.”
McCrory, who lost to Democrat Beverly Perdue four years ago, is running again this year. Perdue is not seeking re-election.
Morgan said he has high regard for current state Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, a Democrat who has filed for re-election.
“I know him well,” Morgan said. “My background is in insurance. He is a lawyer. I want to look at it from the standpoint of the consumer. I have the background. I know insurance inside and out.”
Morgan, 59, also pointed out that he has experience working in a cabinet-level position. He served in the former Department of Human Resources during the Holshouser adminstration in the 1970s. Jim Holshouser, who later moved to Moore County, has the distinction of being the first Republican to be elected governor in the 20th century.
This is will be Morgan’s second run for insurance commissioner. He lost to Democrat Jim Long in 1984, but managed to garner 46 percent of the vote.
“That was a tough year to run because Democrats outnumbered Republicans more than three to one,” he said. “The dynamics of the state have changed.”
Morgan will have to win another GOP primary before facing Goodwin. Republicans Mike Causey, of Greensboro, and James McCall, fo Mooresville, have also filed for the post.
Morgan said he is not overly concerned about the baggage from his 16 years in the General Assembly becoming an issue in this year’s campaign. He rose 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 in 2006.
Morgan lost his re-election bid to Joe Boylan, a Pinehurst Republican, in a brutal GOP primary.Boylan 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.
Among his most vocal critics then was former state Rep. Art Pope, a Wake County Republican and business owner, who spent considerable time and money helping to defeat Morgan.
“I didn’t see him materialize much in my 2008 race,” Morgan said of Pope. “I don’t really expect it this time. But in political life, you are subject to attacks.”
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 between 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 continually countered that his power-sharing arrangement helped Republicans and that he was an effective representative for Moore County.
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 and served time in a federal prison.
Morgan has insisted that he did nothing wrong and was never implicated in the Black scandal.
Morgan was first elected to the House in 1990. During that time, he served on the Education Committee, the Appropriations Subcommit-tee on Education, and as vice chairman of the House Finance Committee, chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, House minority leader and chairman of the House Financial Institutions Committee. He served as speaker pro tem during his final two years.
After leaving office, Morgan said he wanted to spend more time on his Eagle Springs farm and that he wanted to lose weight, which he did — in dramatic fashion, going from 265 pounds down to 164.
His wife, Cindy, won election as county commissioner in November 2006. She unsuccessfully challenged state Sen. Harris Blake, of Pinehurst, in a GOP primary contest in 2008. Blake and Richard Morgan were once close political allies. She lost her re-election bid as a county commissioner two years later to newcomer Craig Kennedy.
Richard Morgan said he looks forward to the campaign.
“It is time for me to re-enter political life again,” he said.
Contact David Sinclair at email@example.com.
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