Republican State House Leader Richard Morgan says Republican Representative Ed McMahan is a skunk. (Those weren’t Richard’s exact words; he actually said McMahon “is about the most hypocritical person I know. I don’t like him. I don’t like his character. He has no business being National Committeeman or being Republican nominee for a legislative seat of anything else.”)
Republican Representative John Blust then said, in effect, that Morgan is a polecat (not his exact words either but close enough).
Then Republican State Chairman Ferrell Blount defended McMahan (the skunk) and said, in effect, Morgan is a Republican Benedict Arnold because he formed a coalition with Democrat House Speaker Jim Black. Then the State Party voted to spend money to defeat Morgan in his Republican Primary.
Morgan’s retort to that was: “It should not be that Republicans who are elected to office in their districts should have to check their brains at the door and plug up a machine that tells you how to vote.”
That’s a relief. I was beginning to worry that none of so-called Republican leaders in the State House had anything to hook up to that machine.
This feud started three years ago when the election (and Mike Decker’s party switch) sent exactly 60 Republicans and 60 Democrats to the House. A tie. Fifty-five (or so) of the Republicans voted to elect Rep. Leo Daughtry Speaker. But Richard Morgan – and four Republican allies – refused to vote for Daughtry. No way. No time. Ever. Morgan had an ax to grind with Leo and he all but emasculated him. And Democrat House Speaker Jim Black – who must have been amazed at his good luck – was more than willing to do his share to help.
What major issue did Richard Morgan and Leo Daughtry disagree on? Taxes? Spending? The Lottery? No. Before the 2002 election Morgan was Republican Leader in the House. Then Daughtry, rather unceremoniously, deposed him and Richard isn’t a man who takes rejection well. When Leo ran for Speaker, Morgan got even in a big way. He made a deal with Black, parlayed those five votes into a Co-Speakership with Black and relegated Daughtry to the back row – which in the legislature is the equivalent of Siberia.
Since then, Morgan and Jim Black have been, as Forest Gump would say, “like peas and carrots.’ Morgan has continued his alliance with Black, who’s only too glad to keep Morgan propped up in order to keep Republicans in the House divided.
Now, some Republicans have figured out what Black must have known a long time ago. There probably won’t be a Republican majority in the House as long as Black can count on Morgan’s five votes.
So, what’s the solution?
Blust and McMahan and Ferrell Bount all say the solution is to beat Morgan in his Republican primary in Moore County. That’s their right, but you can bet Morgan won’t take that lying down. He may just decide to try to defeat Blust and McMahan in their primaries.
If he does, Blust and McMahon and Morgan may all be out of the General Assembly next fall – which might not be so bad. Some new faces in the State House might be a blessing.