Rep. Laura Wiley says she will not run again in 2010
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — Boosting business in North Carolina and trying to keep the Democrats in control of the Senate will be among the first major challenges of Sen. Martin Nesbitt, who has been named Senate majority leader in the wake of Sen. Tony Rand’s departure.
So said the 63-year-old attorney as he addressed the press after the announcement of his election by the Democratic Caucus on Tuesday, telling reporters not to expect any big changes.
“My style will be a bit different,” he admitted, but added it would be “the same crowd with a little bit different spin.”
Unlike Rand, Nesbitt, who has spent three decades in the General Assembly, will not chair the Rules Committee.
“We need to spread the power around over here,” Nesbitt said. “We have so much talent that we need to let other members share in the leadership.”
Bristling a bit at being characterized in recent reports as one of the most liberal members of the Senate, Nesbitt maintained he is a “mix,” influenced by urban issues of Asheville and the rural concerns of Buncombe County. He prefers being considered a “mountain populist” and said jump-starting the economy was among his first goals.
“That’s not liberal or conservative. That’s just smart,” he said.
Even so, the North Carolina Free Enterprise Foundation rated Nesbitt a low 39.4 (only an “occasional supporter” of the free enterprise position) on a poll released earlier this month that considers votes cast during session and the opinions of business lobbyists. Civitas Action rated him at the bottom of its Conservative Effectiveness Rankings for the 2009 session with a score of 2.1. The organization’s scales are based on a lawmaker’s votes on bills and amendments that illustrate conservative ideals.
Describing his prior role as that of “a warrior and an advocate,” Nesbitt said now he is charged with “leading this crowd where they want to go.”
“You don’t have much success trying to tell this crowd what to do,” he added. “You have to listen to them and find out what they want to do and get them where they need to be.”
Appointed to the House to succeed his late mother, Rep. Mary Nesbitt, the Buncombe County native was voted out in 1994 but returned two years later and was appointed to the Senate in 2004. He represents District 49.
Nesbitt was the primary sponsor of some 28 bills this year and signed on to 86 more.
“I think it’s fair to say that on our issues, Nesbitt has been something of a ‘mix,’” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “He supported the School Violence Prevention Act, the Clarify Alienation of Affection/Criminal Conversation bill, and the Malt Beverage Special Permit, all strongly opposed by the Christian Action League. He was a supporter of Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) for North Carolina schools, but voted in favor of the compromise bill that kept Abstinence Until Marriage (AUM) as the standard. Nesbitt should also be credited with opposing the Spirituous Liquor Tastings at ABC Stores bill, which fortunately helped stop the measure when it was taken up in the Senate Commerce Committee. He also supported the historic anti-smoking legislation that banned smoking in restaurants and bars in North Carolina, which CAL supported.”
Rep. Laura Wiley says she will not run again
In other Legislative news, Rep. Laura Wiley has announced that she will not seek a fourth term but will spend more time with her family instead.
The Guilford County Republican will serve out her current term in the 61st District before heading home to High Point. A former teacher, she focused much of her energy in the education arena and is a member of eight committees, three that relate to education.
“We deeply appreciate the service of Rep. Wiley,” said Rev. Creech. “She has not only been a good friend to me during her tenure, but also a good friend to the League. I can only hope that someone of equal character and values will replace her.”