05/09/06 — The RINOs: Will they come in November?

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The RINOs: Will they come in November?

The leadership of the Republican Party has succeeded in cleansing itself — at least partially and temporarily — of those it deemed guilty of overly fraternizing with their Democrat colleagues in the North Carolina General Assembly.

The biggest “baby thrown out with the wash” was Richard Morgan, former co-speaker of the House.

Back in 2003, when the elected membership of the House was equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, Morgan, supported by a handful of fellow Republicans, cut a deal with Democrats. He and veteran Speaker Jim Black would share the speakership.

The speaker assigns members to committees and has the virtual power of life and death over issues coming before the Legislature.

Morgan and Black apparently worked well together. Too well, many Republicans felt. Among other things, a “temporary” tax increase was extended.

The name RINO was coined to describe Republicans who worked in unison with Democrats. That stood for “Republican In Name Only.”

Morgan and some others — including Rep. Stephen LaRoque who represents Greene, Lenoir and parts of Wayne County — were toppled in the Republican primary. LaRoque was defeated by veteran campaigner Willie Ray Starling of Wayne County.

State Republican Chairman and Republican National Committeeman Ferrell Blount, along with former chairman and  congressman Bill Cobey, championed the cause of ousting the “RINOs.”

They wanted to send a message that elected officials who did not adhere to “Republican values” were unacceptable to the party. The effort was well-financed.

Was it risky to work for the purging of sitting Republicans?  Only time will tell. And that time could be as close as the November elections.

Democrats, over the years, have demonstrated the ability to fight savagely during their primaries then close ranks and fight fiercely against the Republicans in November. Republicans have a proclivity to not be so forgiving of one another — as was so recently demonstrated.

The GOP leadership’s firm position could be vindicated in the General Election. But it might not be the best of times. It will be an off-year election. The party no longer has the voice and tremendous drawing appeal of Jesse Helms.

Of perhaps greater importance, will the RINOs be urged to attend a love feast in November — and will they come if invited?

Published in Editorials on May 9, 2006 10:33 AM