Republicans may be locked in a power struggle with Democrats in the evenly divided House, but they're getting new respect in the Senate.
The Democratic leader of the Senate, Marc Basnight, tipped his hat to the narrow balance of power in that body, where Democrats hold a 28-22 majority, and tapped four Republican senators to head Senate committees.
Basnight appointed Republican Sen. John Carrington of Raleigh as co-chairman of the Information Technology Committee; Republican Sen. John Garwood of Wilkes County to serve as one of three co-chairmen of the Education Committee; Stan Bingham, R-Davidson, as co-chair of Health and Human Services; and Republican Fletcher Hartsell of Concord as sole chairman of the Judiciary 2 Committee.
To fill vacant leadership posts on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Basnight named two Democratic women, Sens. Linda Garrou of Winston-Salem and Kay Hagan of Greensboro, to lead the panel with Sen. Walter Dalton of Rutherfordton.
"These are very well-prepared, talented visionaries," Basnight said Tuesday of his appropriations leadership. "There lies the possibility that this could be the best team we ever had."
Some suspense surrounded the appointment to that committee because two of its previous co-chairmen were defeated last year, and the third retired.
Basnight tried to persuade Sen. David Hoyle of Gastonia, a co-chairman of the Finance Committee, to switch over to Appropriations, but Hoyle wanted to stay where he was, Basnight said. Sen. John Kerr of Goldsboro will remain co-chairman of finance along with Hoyle.
Basnight also considered Raleigh's own Eric Reeves for the Appropriations Committee, but Reeves didn't want the job, either. Instead, Reeves will remain a co-chairman of the Information Technology Committee, and he will assume the chairmanship of the appropriations subcommittee for health and human services.
Other appointments include:
* Democratic Sens. Jeanne Lucas of Durham and Steve Metcalf of Buncombe County will lead the Education Committee with Garwood.
* Democratic Sen. Charles Albertson of Duplin County will lead the Agriculture and Environment Committee.
* Democratic Sen. R.C. Soles of Columbus County will lead the Commerce Committee.
* Democratic Sen. Ellie Kinnaird of Carrboro will lead the State Government, Local Government and Veterans' Affairs Committee.
* Democratic Sen. Bill Purcell of Scotland County will lead the Health and Human Resources Committee.
* Democratic Sen. Tony Rand of Fayetteville will remain chairman of the Rules Committee.
* Democratic Sen. Charlie Dannelly of Charlotte will remain chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
* Democratic Sen. Dan Clodfelter of Charlotte will lead the Judiciary 1 Committee.
Appropriations subcommittee leaders are:
* Lucas and Metcalf to education.
* Democratic Sen. Wib Gulley of Durham to transportation.
* Democratic Sen. A.B. Swindell of Nashville to general government.
* Democratic Sen. David Weinstein of Lumberton to natural and economic resources.
* Purcell to health and human services.
* Democratic Sen. Scott Thomas of New Bern to justice and public safety.
By staff writer Amy Gardner, who can be reached at 829-8902 or firstname.lastname@example.org.