RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — By Friday most house Republicans got a vote they were hoping for. North Carolina congressman Dan Bishop switched his vote for Speaker of the House in favor of Kevin McCarthy.
The focus of such high drama may be on the nation’s capital today, but it was on North Carolina’s capitol 20 years ago. After a nail biter election, with Republicans favored to control the House, Democrats did better than expected and then Republican Michael Decker, who won his election, flipped to democrat.
The house was split 60-60.
Decker would later plead guilty in federal court to conspiring to commit extortion, money laundering and fraud for taking $50,000 to change parties.
Among those in the state house in 2003 are those who are seeing a similar situation unfold in the U.S. house. That includes congressional representatives Alma Adams (D), Patrick McHenry (R), a key negotiator for McCarthy, and Deborah Ross (D).
“When I was first elected to the North Carolina legislature we were evenly divided, and we had all these rounds of votes for Speaker until a deal was cut” Ross recalled.
Current Republican congresswoman Virginia Foxx was a state senator when her colleagues in the other chamber managed to agree on co-house speakers. It took more than a week to agree on one person from each party.
Democrat Joe Sam Queen served in the state house and senate. Now in full post-politics mode, he recalled it actually being a good thing.
“North Carolina thrived that year, a very sensible compromise government all the way through, schools were funded, progress was made, just things went along splendidly,” said Queen.
That history gives him hope today.
“There’s hope for the congress of the country if they’ll just mind their affairs and realize putting the people in front of politics,” Queen said.
While such power sharing worked for North Carolina it may not be so realistic in Washington. So, Queen has a warning for Republicans. “If they let a fringe lead the Republicans will find themselves in much more difficulty,” he said.