On Wednesday, three veteran lawmakers acknowledged their intentions to run for speaker if Black can't hold the position. Among them is Majority Leader Joe Hackney of Orange County, who previously had declined to talk about the possibility of a speaker's race. "It's obvious that there will be some people exploring that option as we go along, and I'd be one of them," Hackney said.
The others are former Speaker Dan Blue of Raleigh, who is returning to the House to fill a seat made vacant by Rep. Bernard Allen's death, and Drew Saunders, a five-term lawmaker from Mecklenburg County who said he would run only if Black cannot.
We the People don't get to vote on this, of course, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't make our voices heard. And my voice is going to be behind either Joe Hackney or - a much longer shot - Deborah Ross.
For those of you who have been around BlueNC for awhile, you know I have been a tough critic of Joe's. I expected him to speak out early and loudly about the sleaze around Jim Black. I still think he should have done that, but I also understand the reasons for not doing it. As majority leader, he had responsibiilties to keep work in the House moving along - and a mid-session blow-up would have been catastrophic. I'm a hot-head, Joe's not. Good for him.
Joe is also not a darling of NC business interests like Backroom Black was. That means he won't be bought, and it also means those business interests won't quickly line up behind him. For people interested in fairness and balance, this is good news. Joe Hackney is a straight shooter and an honest politician - and he's a progressive to boot.
None of the other candidates being bandied about is a progressive in any sense of the word that I understand.
If I had to pick a longshot who would be a totally awesome Speaker of the House, it would be Deborah Ross. She's indicated no interest that I'm aware of, so we might have to draft her. And it would definitely be worth the trouble. Deborah is smart, strong, honest, and tireless. And she's a progressive champion. She carried the ball on the ethics bill, and she used to be the director of the state ACLU. If there are two things North Carolina needs in the years ahead, it's (1) a staunch advocate for ethics, and (2) a staunch advocate for civil liberties. I serve on a board with Deborah Ross and we'd miss her greatly if she became Madame Speaker. But it would be WAY worth it to have that kind of ethical, progressive leadership in the NC House.
BlueNC is dedicated to freedom and fairness for the people of North Carolina. If you share that vision, welcome. If your intention is to disrupt our efforts, please find somewhere else to express your opinions.
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