Sheriff ponders new job

Staff WritersFebruary 27, 2003 

Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell says some people are whispering in his ear about running for governor. And though Bizzell says he's happy where he is, he isn't closing the door.

"I love being sheriff," Bizzell said. "I hope to be sheriff for a long, long time. But if the right things were in the right place and the backing was there, at the right time, I would give it some consideration."

Bizzell, 44, was elected Johnston County's first Republican sheriff in recent memory in 1998 and was re-elected last year.

The folksy Bizzell said that if he ran for governor he would address the state's fiscal problems by gathering the best experts available to find ways to cut wasteful spending rather than raise taxes.

"I have nothing against Mike Easley," said Bizzell, referring to the Democratic governor. "He's a friend of mine. But we've got to have people who know what it is to make a payroll, what it is to make a profit and realize government revenues come from working people."

Robinson eyes bid

Winston-Salem City Council member Vernon Robinson is among those strongly interested in replacing U.S. Rep. Richard Burr in the 5th District next year. Burr is considering a bid for the U.S. Senate next year.

Robinson, one of the state's most prominent black conservatives, said he has been receiving encouragement from Washington. There are no black Republicans serving in Congress this session, following the retirement of J.C. Watts of Oklahoma.

"I am talking to leaders and activists in the district," Robinson said. "I am also getting calls from the Republican National Committee and the White House. They know I have a track record as a conservative."

"Folks in Washington talking to me realize they have a Trent Lott problem," Robinson said. "J.C. Watt is gone. I've run four times in every county in the Fifth District."

Robinson twice ran unsuccessfully for state superintendent of public instruction and once unsuccessfully for the state House. He has served on the Winston-Salem City Council for six years.

Robinson, 47, also runs the N.C. Education Reform Foundation, which pushes for the creation of more charter schools.

Hot off the Web

While the rest of the House rank and file fretted over which committee assignments they would get Tuesday, Rep. Cary Allred had the inside scoop 30 minutes ahead of time thanks to a gaff by the legislative staff.

The staff posted the list on the web before Co-Speakers Richard Morgan and Jim Black were ready to hand out the gavels. Allred's wife spotted the list and printed it out for her husband, who flipped through it as the House recessed.

Allred, a Burlington Republican, then met with Black and Morgan outside the chamber to try to convince them to drop him from a subcommittee that typically meets at 8:30 a.m. Allred has a tough time getting to the House that early.

Meanwhile, word spread throughout the House that the list was up on the Web. But by the time some had fired up their laptops, it had been wiped away.

Allred couldn't persuade the co-speakers to take him off the subcommittee, but he did notice that a few changes were made by the time they handed out the gavels. He said a couple of minor committee chairmanships had been changed, along with a few committee assignments.

He declined to show the list to a reporter. "I don't want to upset the other members," Allred said.

By staff writers Rob Christensen and Dan Kane. Christensen can be reached at 829-4532 or robc@newsobserver.com.

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