The N.C. Senate unanimously passed a resolution Thursday honoring Mark Binker, a veteran political reporter who died unexpectedly in April at age 43.
Binker covered politics for WRAL-TV and the Greensboro News & Record before becoming editor of the N.C. Insider State Government News Service in March. The Insider is owned by The News & Observer.
The resolution, sponsored by Senate leader Phil Berger, says Binker “was greatly admired and respected by those he covered, many of whom described him as an outstanding, tough, but fair, professional member of the media.”
Senators from both political parties shared memories of Binker in emotional floor speeches as the resolution was discussed Thursday.
“He was someone that became well known here as a fair person, as someone who did his homework, understood what he was doing, understood that at times there’s something of an adversarial relationship between members of this body and the press, and yet did that with good humor and professionalism,” Berger said.
Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, a Raleigh Democrat, said Binker “represents the best of what the American idea of free press is about.”
“He didn’t shy away from tough questions, and you squirm a bit, but that’s what the First Amendment is all about,” Blue added.
Sen. Chad Barefoot, a Wake Forest Republican, recalled when he first met Binker in 2009 as a staff member for the GOP House minority leader. House Republicans held weekly press conferences then that didn’t always get much media attention, Barefoot said, but Binker always attended.
“He was a wonk,” Barefoot said. “He wanted to understand issues. He treated every issue with the same level of curiosity. He always covered both sides with interest.”
Sen. Tommy Tucker, a Union County Republican, choked up with emotion as he addressed Binker’s two young sons, who were sitting with his wife, friends and other family in the gallery. Tucker said his own father died young.
“This is one of those situations in life where you just don’t understand,” Tucker said. “Boys, it makes you grow up fast, but you’ve got to take care of your mom.”