Politics & Government

Moderate NC Republican representative won’t seek re-election

Advocates for the environment, redistricting reform and privatization of alcohol sales will soon lose a major Republican voice.

NC Rep. Chuck McGrady, a Republican who has represented Henderson County since 2010, announced Monday that he won’t try to retain his seat representing District 117 next year. McGrady is one of few moderate Republicans in the state House, where he holds leadership positions on several key committees.

In a statement emailed to reporters, McGrady said he wants to return his focus to his friends and family.

“In the near future, I hope to hike and camp more in places that it’s been my privilege to protect. And I also have a lengthy list of books that I’ve had to put off reading for far too long,” he said.

McGrady served as the national chairman for the Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy group, from 1998 to 2000. State Director Molly Diggins praised him as a “steadfast champion of the environment.”

“He stands out as a state legislator for his much-valued ability to work with diverse interests to forge the best achievable outcome in often challenging circumstances,” Diggins said in an email.

“As an Appropriations chair, he has been able to advocate for funding for environmental programs and agencies. He recognizes the need for state environmental protections to ensure that our treasured natural spaces can be enjoyed by future generations,” she said. “We look forward to seeing what Rep. McGrady will achieve in his remaining time in office — and to joining him on the hiking trails! “

This year, McGrady has led pushes to privatize alcohol sales in North Carolina, which are controlled by the government, and to reform the process for drawing election maps.

McGrady co-chairs the Group North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform and has sponsored a constitutional amendment that he says would end politically-motivated gerrymandering in North Carolina. District lines are currently drawn by lawmakers, who have been known to create election maps that benefit their own political party.

His announcement Monday prompted a wave of kind remarks from politicians on both sides of the aisle.

“Chuck McGrady is one of the smartest and hardest working members of the (legislature). He has always been very helpful and kind to me, and I have learned a lot working with him,” Sen. Mike Woodard, a Durham Democrat, tweeted.

Becki Gray, senior vice president of the conservative John Locke Foundation, referred to McGrady as “a true champion.” The Twitter account for the NC House Republican Caucus thanked McGrady for his service.

“Our state is stronger for your service to it,” the account tweeted.

Greg Andeck, who works on policy for the Audubon Society of North Carolina, tweeted that he’ll miss McGrady’s leadership.

“I’ll always remember and appreciate his common sense approach to tackling thorny issues and his steadfast work to protect our land and natural resources,” Andeck tweeted.

Paul “Andy” Specht reports on North Carolina leaders and state politics for The News & Observer and PolitiFact. Specht previously covered Raleigh City Hall and town governments around the Triangle. He’s a Raleigh native who graduated from Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C. Contact him at aspecht@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4870.
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