05/17/05 — Floyd Lupton: A great example for the No. 2’s

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Floyd Lupton: A great example for the No. 2’s

For the most part, members of Congress from North Carolina have been blessed with dedicated, efficient administrative aides.

They are the individuals who handle each day’s mail and phone calls from constituents. This enables the elected senators and representatives to devote more time to legislative matters — committee meetings and floor discussions.

The late Sen. Sam Ervin commented once that it was important to handle each piece of mail the day it arrived. “The next day will bring that many more letters and you can be hopelessly overwhelmed,” he explained.

Sen. Jesse Helms was noted for the prompt and effective attention given to constituents’ communications.

In recent decades, only one member of the Senate was known for his poor response to letters and calls from people back home. The performance of his staff was dismal, bordering on nonexistent.

He lasted one term.

The “number two” person in any political office can be the difference between good constituency service and the elected official’s longevity in Washington.

Floyd Lupton was an excellent example of the type of administrative assistants for which our members of Congress have been recognized.

He served the late Congressman Walter Jones Sr. for 25 years. When people in the First Congressional District had questions or needed help from Washington, they, for the most part, called Lupton. He opened the congressional office in the morning and was there until 9 or 10 at night. And he knew where to go and how to get things done.

Many regarded him as “our man” in Washington.

When Jones retired, Lupton was seen as the logical one to move into the office. But things had changed. Realignment would virtually assure the election of a minority. Lupton did not offer for the post.

His varied career before going to Washington included a stint in the Army during World War II in which he earned the Bronze Star while fighting in Europe.

Floyd Lupton died recently after a long illness. Congressman Walter Jones Jr. has introduced a bill to name the post office in Belhaven, Lupton’s hometown, in his honor. Already, a ferry plying the Neuse between Minnesott Beach and Cherry Branch bears his name.

These are appropriate recognitions.

But the greatest legacy of Floyd Lupton could be the example he set for others who serve in the role as “Number 2” to those who hold high public office.

Published in Editorials on May 17, 2005 10:22 AM