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Art Pope must be tickled to death.

Last month he lead a campaign to defeat five Republican legislators – saying they were really pawns of Democratic House Speaker Jim Black – because three years ago they voted for a coalition that elected Republican Richard Morgan and Democrat Black Co-Speakers of the House.

Of course, the Republicans Pope targeted vehemently denied they were anyone’s pawns. But Black’s attacks on Pope certainly make it look like Pope had a point.

Black says Pope “eliminated a great statesman” when he defeated Representative Richard Morgan (News and Observer, 5/4/06). If Morgan has any plans of running for office again as a Republican that endorsement was the last thing he needed.

Black also “painted Pope’s activities as wealth trumping bipartisanship.” He said: “You’re not going to see any more of that from the Republican side because Uncle Art is going to get you.”

Pope sent his own not too subtle message back. He said “there are no plans to fund an independent campaign focused on Black…but no final decision has been made.”

The fight in the Republican primaries this year wasn’t about bipartisanship. It was about who was going to lead Republicans in the House. In the end, by defeating Morgan, Republican voters in his district expressed their disapproval of his continuing alliance with Black.

What Black doesn’t seem to understand is that by attacking Pope he isn’t helping Morgan. He’s helping Pope. But, then, what Black may really have in mind is passing legislation to stop Pope from launching a new campaign – to talk about Democrat legislators’ stands on issues this fall.

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