In an e-mail to constituents about his party switch, Democrat-turned-Republican Tony Moore, a state senator from Pitt County, laid out the three reasons for his decision.
First, there's that new legislative districts map. Moore was put in the same district with veteran Democrat John Kerr of Goldsboro. Moore's e-mail doesn't mention that in so many words, but says the Democratic Party treated him and his constituents unfairly.
Second, there's the state Senate's promotion of a cancer center for UNC-Chapel Hill over a cardiovascular center for East Carolina University. Both were being tossed around during this year. Only the cancer center made it to a Senate vote.
Senate Democrats, however, get steamed at Moore's suggestion that they short-changed ECU's heart center. Senate leader Marc Basnight, a Manteo Democrat, says he wanted to include the heart center, but building both would require a cigarette tax increase -- something the House wasn't going to approve. Moore said he would probably support a temporary tax increase on cigarettes and alcohol to get the centers built.
In the end, neither health center advanced. Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, a Fayetteville Democrat, said support for the cardiovascular center has nothing to do with party affiliation.
"This is just someone who is trying to justify an action by appealing to local prejudice as much as he can," Rand said.
The third reason for his party switch, Moore said, is ECU taking a back seat to UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University in general. Moore said that all comes down to sports. Legislators should promote more games between ECU and Triangle teams, he said.
"They'll play smaller schools, but not East Carolina sometimes," he said.
Rand said that's already happening because he, Basnight and the late Sen. Ed Warren pushed for it. "Tell him we already worked on that," he said.
A contender in 10th
State Rep. Patrick McHenry, a Cherryville Republican, officially announced Tuesday that he will seek the 10th Congressional District seat next year.
McHenry will likely be part of a crowded Republican field to replace Cass Ballenger, who announced last week he would retire next year after 18 years representing the Western North Carolina district.
McHenry, 28, a former aide to U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, said he would continue Ballenger's support of small business as part of his effort to bring jobs to the district, wracked by textile and furniture layoffs.
Honoring his father
Luther Hodges Jr.'s effort to bring more recognition to his father, the late former Gov. Luther Hodges, is bearing fruit. Next month, the state Board of Transportation is set to name a section of highway for Hodges, who helped launch Research Triangle Park.
The Research Triangle Foundation has asked the board to name four miles of Interstate 540 that will run between N.C. 55 and N.C. 54 for Hodges, who was governor from 1954 to 1961.
By staff writer Lynn Bonner, who can be reached at 829-4821 or firstname.lastname@example.org.