By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
December 2, 2015
RALEIGH – Two more lawmakers in the North Carolina General Assembly have announced that they will not seek re-election in 2016.
Tom Apodaca, the Republican Senator who represents Buncombe, Henderson and Transylvania Counties announced Monday that it was time for him to move on. He told the Charlotte Observer, “We’ve come to a point where we’ve accomplished almost everything we set out to. Politics has never been the driving force in my life.”
Politics may not have been the driving force in Apodaca’s life, but there is no question that Apodaca has been a driving force in North Carolina politics.
Apodaca has served as the chairman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee. From that post he controlled a significant portion of the Senate’s agenda.
Other formidable committees on which he served as chairman include the Select Committee on Nominations, the Select Committee on UNC Board of Governors, Ways and Means Committee, the Legislative Research Commission and the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on the North Carolina State Lottery.
He has played a key role on matters pertaining to budget appropriations, commerce, education, finance, insurance, the judiciary, pensions and retirement, and redistricting.
Apodaca’s leadership style has earned him nicknames like “Mr. Chairman,” the “Bull Moose”, the “Enforcer,” the “Senate Muscle.” But it is his humor that his colleagues are likely to remember most about him.
In a profile article about Apodaca by the Charlotte Observer published back in June, Sen. Jeff Jackson, a Charlotte Democrat said, “The lesson that Sen. Apodaca has taught me is that good humor will make up for a lot…He maintains good order with good humor, and that’s a rare sight.” In the same article, former Senate Rules Chairman, and prominent Senate veteran, Tony Rand (D), referred to Apodaca as “a funny, funny guy.” And Sen. Louis Pate (R) from Wayne County told the Kinston Daily Free Press it was Apodaca’s lighter side, his humor, that he would miss a lot.
Sen. President Pro Tempore, Phil Berger sent out a glowing statement about Apodaca’s decision not to seek re-election.
“Tom is not only one of my closest friends in the Legislature; he’s one of my closest friends – period. Tom was a steadying influence when we made big decisions, and someone the caucus could always count on to solve big problems. I can’t overstate how instrumental he has been to the Senate Republican Caucus’s electoral and legislative success,” said Berger.
“In my estimation, the loss of Tom Apodaca is not only a great loss for the North Carolina Senate, but I can only surmise as to what kind of damage it may mean for the values the Christian Action League represents,” said Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
“Tom was not with us on every issue, but he always kept an open door policy to whatever concerns we had and he took us seriously. On the main issues of marriage, family, life, religious liberty, he was always with us. Apodaca also stood against the video poker and sweepstakes initiatives and spoke sternly against a Catawba Indian Casino proposal. But I am also deeply appreciative for the great friend he has been to me personally,” added Dr. Creech.
Whitmire Also Announces Exit
Also announcing his departure this week (Tuesday), Republican Rep. Chris Whitmire says he will not seek a third term in the North Carolina House.
Whitmire represents Polk and Transylvania Counties and a part of Henderson County.
He cited a job opportunity outside of the General Assembly and related to his former military experience that he felt he couldn’t pass up as his reason for not seeking re-election.
Dr. Creech said Whitmire has been a strong social conservative which the League could always rely on.
Concerned Women for America presented him the North Carolina Legislator of the Year with their Senator James S. Forrester Outstanding Legislator in Defense of Family Values Award in 2013.
Dr. Creech also pointed out that Whitmire was the driving force in 2013 behind legislation that banned Sharia Law in North Carolina.
Although some legislators argued at the time that the law was unnecessary, Whitmire, as well as other supporters of the measure explained that there had already been more than 50 cases in 23 states in which judges have applied foreign law, depriving people of their constitutional rights. Often women and children wind up the victims when Sharia law is applied. Under the law based on the Quran and the Sunna, the teachings and writings of Mohammed, there is no age requirement for a girl to marry, and acts of adultery or prostitution can lead to sentences of death. Many Sharia law problems in the United States involve cases of women being beaten by their Muslim husbands, as well as judges ruling that because the men were not accustomed to U.S. laws against spousal abuse, they cannot be convicted.
“We have Whitmire to thank for his foresight in this matter,” said Dr. Creech.
Dr. Creech also said that he was genuinely concerned about the caliber of good people that were exiting the legislative process.
Apodaca and Whitmire make a total of 20 lawmakers who have decided that they will not return to the chamber that they serve after 2016. The list now includes 15 republicans, 4 democrats and 1 unaffiliated.