RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina’s Senate has been led by only two people for the last thirty years.
Current President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R) has held that position since 2011. Sen. Berger succeeded the late Mark Basnight (D) who had led the Senate since 1993. But, North Carolina voters say that’s too much.
Of likely N.C. voters polled by Civitas, 85% said they believe leaders of the General Assembly should have term limits. Only five percent said they shouldn’t.
“I think a lot of the answer comes down to just the traditional sense that people shouldn’t be staying in power too long,” said Mitch Kokai with the conservative John Locke Foundation.
On the House side, Speaker Tim Moore (R) is choosing to not run for the state House of Representatives again. Serving as Speaker since 2015 Moore set a record serving as House Speaker.
“And I think it’s a really interesting sign for both Senator Phil Berger and Speaker Tim Moore that you see overwhelming support for limiting the time that someone can spend in the jobs that they have had record-setting terms in,” said Kokai.
So how much time is the right amount? Forty-seven percent of poll respondents said two terms, which amounts to fours years, is long enough. Not to single out any current or past leaders, Mitch Kokai said people tend to have a certain perception of long-time leaders.
“It’s the old Lord Atcon statement that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. So, the longer you’re in power the more likely you’re going to have this chance to be corrupted by that power,” said Kokai.
The poll likely won’t lead to a change in the law. However, the upcoming open seat for Speaker of the House may be a chance to give the public what they’re asking for.
“So, it’s an opportune time for the state House and especially the state House Republicans to commit to… alright we’ve had our record-breaking Speaker who’s going to end up serving 10 years in office. Maybe the next time around either through legislation or through some sort of agreement when we elect someone Speaker, they’re only going to serve a couple of terms,” said Kokai.