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« GIGO | Main | In flight »

Nov 12, 2012


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For arguments sake I would prefer the term "recent trends" to describe the base in the east. Sure Hunt, Easley and Basnight held court for a good while, but in historic terms power has been evenly spread across the state if one takes into account folks like Liston Ramsey, Sen. Robert Rice Reynolds, the Shelby Dynasty, the Scotts (depending on where "east" begins), Hodges, Dan Moore, all the Republican leaders in the state's history (except for Gardner), Jim Black, etc.

The Democrats traditionally alternated governors between east and west prior to the party transformations that took place around the time of the civil rights movement. As the western half of the state trended Republican that left the Democrats in the east in control of the legislature.

Semantics I'm sure but I tend to view "history" as encompassing that which took place before our lifetimes.

Ed Cone

Points well taken, Jeff,but beyond the Governor's mansion hasn't political power been weighted eastward, by and large, for much of our state history?

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I would say that since the earliest days yes it has been due to the agricultural foundation of the state's power from the colonial period forward. But my point of departure for the sake of argument would be in the context of modern political power which began circa the end of reconstruction, which for our state was some 20 years past the traditional marker of 1877.

The rise of manufacturing and the Piedmont Crescent from the 1900s forward brought plenty of political power west of Chapel Hill. Shelby, Asheville and beyond, and the Northwest are represented on the list of Speakers of the House that I perused.

Just being conversational on a topic of vast personal interest. But my view is that the idea of the east having a lock on political power in the state was revived during the second Hunt era and as Basnight's reign lingered.

Ed Cone

Thanks for the insight, JS.

My adult life has seen so many failed runs for statewide office by mayors of the QC that this year's gov race seems huge.

Account Deleted

I think that's a reflection of where the money is, even during the period I described above. After the Depression crushed the financial power of the agricultural east, money and power rose with manufacturing and then banking in Greensboro, Winston, and Charlotte (to include Gastonia, Concord/Kannapolis). So the Republican from Charlotte could easily lock up a large power base without going east of the Triad. He makes a few connections in Wake County and spreads east from there to win the GOP nomination.

Account Deleted

Another fascinating point (really going "all in" here), is how during the Depression the new princes of manufacturing stymied New Deal direct relief payments to mostly agricultural concerns. This too reflected an east/west split as the Gardner Dynasty of Shelby controlled the governor's mansion during this time. I believe there were some heated legislative sessions then as the east clamored for more New Deal participation and the pro-business Gardner folks sought to throttle Roosevelt's programs because they feared the rise of labor's power.

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