Temper Tantrums Don't Work Well in the Legislature

Published June 14, 2013

By Brad Crone

By Brad Crone, President of Campaign Connections and a regular NC SPIN panelist.

I have been following what’s going on at the North Carolina State Legislature since 1976.  In the summer of 1977, I served as a page for Governor Hunt and really started taking time to pay attention to the legislative maneuvering.

Some of the more memorable moments of my Legislative history highlights include:

  • Carl Stewart of Gastonia serving two consecutive terms as Speaker of the House from 1977 to 1981.
  • The liquor by the drink debate
  • The gubernatorial succession debate
  • The four terms served by Speaker Liston Ramsey.
  • The Super Budget Committee led by Granville County’s Billy Watkins
  • The bulls of the State Senate led by  Jimmy Green, Marshall Rauch, Harold Hardison, Kenneth Royal and Ollie Harris
  • The Columbus County Corruption Scandal where Ron Taylor was convicted of corruption and R.C. Soles was not
  • The Ron Taylor – Monk Harrington feud (where Taylor was accused of burning down a bulk tobacco barn manufacturing facility owned by Senator Monk Harrington in Bertie County)
  • The protests over the Equal Rights Amendment
  • The protests over the PCB landfill in Warren County
  • Senator Bob Warren passing the seat belt bill and then getting beat by Leo Daughtry
  • The overthrow of Liston Ramsey led by Speaker Joe Mavretic
  • Dan Blue being elected the first African American Speaker of the House
  • The gubernatorial veto debate
  • The passage of Smart Start
  • The 1994 GOP House takeover led by Speaker Harold Brubaker
  • The return of the Democrats to power in 1998 led by Speaker Jim Black
  • The Jim Black – Richard Morgan tango and subsequent scandal
  • The resignation of Senate powerhouse Tony Rand
  • The GOP complete takeover led by Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger

And now the Senator Rucho “Temper Tantrum” meltdown.

I think anyone who has been around the General Assembly any time has to be saying they have truly seen it all.

Senator Rucho had the chance to appear like a true statesman – telling colleagues and citizens that he had worked diligently to promote a new tax plan that would update the state’s revenue collection system. And while he was disappointed that his plan couldn’t get out of his own caucus, that he would continue to advance the cause and promote the need for comprehensive tax reform.

Nah, Rucho didn’t take that approach.

He threw a temper tantrum – naming names and pointing fingers.  Blaming special interest groups who had explicitly warned him about the path he was going down.

Senator Rucho must be tone deaf to the politics of tax reform.  His proposal had multiple problems – mainly and most importantly political ones.

Raising taxes on senior citizens and low-income citizens while giving tax breaks to big business and big industry was a heavy lift.  Taxing groceries, Social Security, medicines and another 170 new taxes on services was another problem. And the mere fact it was out of balance between revenue and expenses to the tune of $1 billion there or about was another stumbling block.

The weight of the enormous tax plan collapsed so Rucho threw a temper tantrum.

In all my years of watching the General Assembly, I have never seen such a display of bad sportsmanship. If he had been playing basketball he would have surely gotten a technical foul.

His fellow members must be shaking their heads and wondering, “what in the world?”

A personal meltdown and a temper tantrum won’t win you any friends or help you influence votes and I doubt that it is a successful strategy for getting things done in the General Assembly.

As the tax reform debate continues perhaps we will finally see some statesmanship from Speaker of the House Thom Tillis.


June 14, 2013 at 5:52 pm
dj anderson says:

Wew! He said all that to say this...Rucho went bonkers, or went Rucho, to coin a term.

Politics is a self-cleaning oven -- don't dare open the door when the heat is on; politics is a mulching mower that chews 'em up without spitting them out. Should I go on?

I tell you that the Republicans in NC just haven't had the experience and don't have the well oiled machine that Democrats have had. This will not be the last 'meltdown' of big, individual egos. Just wait for the first veto!!!

The Assembly majority might at any moment pass a bill replacing the Assembly license plates on their cars with tin cans and strings like just married honeymooners drag behind their cars. Have they written WINNER, Champions or some such on their back windows yet?

The Democrats, well oiled or not, don't know how to be the minority vote in the Assembly with a Republican governor. How were they to know how to act? Well, over a century ago the Democrats took back power from Republican with help from the KKK, and now, the NAACP is trying to help, but not scaring anyone, not getting more than the base excited.

"Politics make strange bedfellows" the old saying goes, and NC Democrats must learn to do just that to shape Republican actions.

Let's hope the Assembly isn't drinking from the same water dipper as the Wake County School Board. Then again, DC is looking out of control internally. The USA is sending arms to keep the Syrian civil war going.

Maybe this is the way the world will always be, and this all is the same old, same old world, but I hope not. I want utopia in NC.

I enjoyed reading this blog.

June 14, 2013 at 8:54 pm
Flint Benson says:

Actually the seat belt law was passed by the General Assembly in 1985 and Sen. Bob Warren was not defeated until 1988. He had no problem winning re-election in 1986, the immediate election following the seat belt law passage.