After 20 years in the N.C. House, Rep. Edgar Starnes announced Monday that he’s resigning to lobby for State Treasurer Janet Cowell.
Starnes, a Caldwell County Republican who served as House majority leader, will become Cowell’s senior policy advisor and legislative liaison. He replaces former Rep. Bill McGee of Forsyth County, who retired last summer.
“I thought it was a good opportunity,” Starnes said. “I don’t know how much more there is that I’m going to be able to do in the General Assembly.”
Starnes’ new boss is a Democrat, but he says his connections to GOP leaders will make him an effective advocate for Cowell.
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“I think it would make sense that the state treasurer would have a Republican as her eyes and ears in a Republican General Assembly,” he said. “The elected position is a partisan office, but managing the state pension funds and the state health plan is a nonpartisan endeavor.”
Starnes starts work Wednesday at an annual salary of $65,000. In a news release, Cowell said he “brings a unique knowledge of the people of this state and the opportunities and challenges we face.”
Starnes was named as a possible candidate for House speaker after Thom Tillis announced his run for U.S. Senate, but said it later became “more likely” that he would instead try to remain as majority leader. He says he withdrew his name from consideration a few weeks ago.
The Caldwell County Republican Party will meet soon to nominate Starnes’ replacement, who’d then be appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory. “I do not know who they’ll choose,” Starnes said Monday.