Politics & Government

Republicans will choose a new state senator after Louis Pate retires a week into term

Scenes from opening day of the NC legislature

See photos from the opening day N.C. legislature in Raleigh, Wednesday, January 9, 2019,
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See photos from the opening day N.C. legislature in Raleigh, Wednesday, January 9, 2019,

State Sen. Louis Pate announced his retirement Monday, less than a week after being sworn in for his fifth term in the state Senate.

“It has been one of the great honors of my lifetime to serve in the General Assembly for more than 16 years, having represented the citizens of Wayne, Lenoir, Greene and Pitt counties,” Pate, a Mount Olive Republican, wrote in his resignation letter to Gov. Roy Cooper.

Pate, 82, served four terms in the House before being elected to the Senate in 2010. During the 2018 election, Pate announced that he’d be stepping away from the campaign trail after having health problems. He was not sworn in during the General Assembly’s opening day ceremony; instead, he had a private swearing-in Jan. 8.

“While I had hoped to make a full recovery by now from a recent health setback, the reality is my recovery is still ongoing and will preclude me from serving my constituents to my fullest ability and to the high standard I expect to deliver for my constituents,” he wrote in his resignation letter.

It is unclear what Pate’s “health setback” was. A press release from Senate leader Phil Berger’s office announcing Pate’s resignation said Pate’s health had “improved substantially in recent weeks and continues to improve.”

Pate served as deputy president pro tempore during the 2017-18 legislative session.

While some of his colleagues remembered Pate’s approach to relationships and legislating, one former lawmaker remembered Pate’s penchant for Chinese food.

“Senator Pate was an expert on Chinese food. He’d always take some folks over to Red Dragon, and then he loved to go to Baskin-Robbins afterwards for some ice cream,” former Sen. Tommy Tucker, a Union County Republican, said in a press release.

As required by state law, Republicans in Wayne and Lenoir counties — the two counties Pate currently represents — will meet to nominate a replacement, who will be appointed to the Senate by Cooper.

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