Smithfield: Opinion

Rucho might be retiring but his ideas aren’t

If you pay attention to state politics, you’ve heard of Bob Rucho.

The retired dentist and lightning rod from Matthews in Mecklenburg County has been at the center of many of the most controversial pieces of legislation since Republicans took control of the House and Senate after the 2010 elections.

Rucho’s legislative work – combined with his seemingly endless passion – led some in the Republican inner circle to launch a whole new lexicon, with his last name as the root. Rucho announced last week that he wouldn’t run for another term in the Senate in 2016. So with that in mind, here are some of the main branches of Rucho’s government philosophy.

First is Ruchonomicsthe branch of science dealing with the production, consumption and transfer of wealth as envisioned by Rucho. Ruchonomics is based on the theory that businesses thrive and create jobs and a state prospers when personal and corporate income taxes are as low as possible, all special tax breaks and loopholes are eliminated, and the sales tax is expanded to more goods and services.

Rucho, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, led the charge on the tax-code changes made the past few years, using Ruchonomics as his guide. Of course, many on the left side of the political aisle believe Ruchonomics helps the rich and hurts the poor.

Next up is Ruchology – the study and pursuit of controversial alternative energy sources, such as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and offshore drilling. Rucho was out in front of the legislature’s push to legalize fracking and push for offshore drilling, which Rucho believes can be done safely. He once said the oil industry learned from mistakes that led to the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The industry has already found ways to make sure that oil exploration and production can be done in a very safe manner,” he said. Environmentalists and many coastal communities with tourism economies don’t subscribe to Ruchology.

And don’t forget Ruchography – the science of drawing congressional and state legislative district maps to favor Republican candidates but still stand up to judicial scrutiny – at least so far. Rucho, as chairman of the Senate Redistricting Committee, helped draw the legislative maps based on the 2010 Census results. The congressional and state Senate maps are named after Rucho. The new districts have helped North Carolina Republicans keep control of the state House and Senate and increase their representation in Congress.

As a result of gerrymandered districts, the push for nonpartisan redistricting in the state perhaps has never been stronger.

Strict adherence to all of the above is known as Radical Ruchoism, which, of course, Rucho leads.

In the news release announcing the retirement, the office of Sen. Phil Berger described Rucho, 67, as a “hard-charging New England native who never lost his Northern accent” and said he was “well-known for his candor and penchant for speaking his mind.”

“Rarely do you see someone work so hard and throw themselves so tenaciously into a project or policy they’ve been asked to tackle,” Berger said.

Rucho plans to finish out his term during the short legislative session of 2016. Perhaps there’s another Ruchoism waiting to be coined.

Then it’ll be time for Ruchotirement. And Democrats will rejoice.

Patrick Gannon writes about state government and politics.

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