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The Daily Tar Heel

Appointments Draw Criticism

House Minority Leader Leo Daughtry, R-Johnston, questioned the motives of House Speaker Jim Black, D-Mecklenburg, who appointed two Republicans not chosen by the Republican caucus as chairmen of their respective committees.

Black selected Rep. Larry Justus, R-Henderson, as co-chairman of the Legislative Redistricting Committee and Rep. Ed McMahan, R-Mecklenburg, as co-chairman of the House Congressional Redistricting Committee.

Redistricting will likely be a hot issue during this legislative session as lawmakers must not only redraw state district lines but also add an additional congressional district.

A lawsuit filed by the state of Utah against the U.S. Census Bureau claiming that Utah's residents were counted incorrectly might jeopardize North Carolina's right to the new district, further complicating the redistricting situation.

Daughtry criticized Black's decision because both Republicans chosen were early supporters of Black's second bid for speaker.

With only a four-seat democratic majority, there were some questions about whether Black would have enough votes to secure his second term as House speaker.

Black was re-elected House speaker on the opening day of the General Assembly by an 117-0 vote as a result of a deal Black struck with Republican leaders to appoint Republican co-chairmen to House committees.

Black's spokeswoman Whitney Moore said Black was only exercising his prerogative as speaker and keeping his promise.

But Daughtry said the Republican caucus nominees were, in many cases, more qualified and should have been selected. "We had an agreement that morning," said Daughtry, referring to a deal that would leave Black the only speaker candidate. "I do not believe he's kept it."

Daughtry also said he thought he would be given more input into the committee appointments. He added that he was also dissatisfied with appointments on the finance and appropriations committees.

But Moore said the appointments were valid. "He had pledged to appoint Republicans as co-chairs of the redistricting committees, and he did," she said.

She added that Black's appointments were an example of him exercising the right given to him by the near-unanimous vote electing him as speaker.

"He was elected speaker by 117 members of the House, and he's doing the job he was elected to do," she said.

And McMahan said he did not believe Daughtry's comments were directed towards his appointment.

"He knows I have a lot of experience," McMahan said, referring to his time as chairman of the House Redistricting Committee in 1997 and 1998.

McMahan added that, regardless of whether Daughtry was referring to him or not, he was disheartened to hear the caucus leader talk negatively about any of its members. "I think the majority of people feel things turned out the way they should have," he said.

But Daughtry said the number of Republican legislators unhappy with the appointments was anything but small.

"There are lots of them."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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