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Rand’s departure leaves ‘big void’ in N.C. Senate

On Nov. 17, the North Carolina Senate Democratic Caucus elected state Sen. Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, as the new majority leader for the N.C. Senate, replacing state Sen. Tony Rand, D-Cumberland.

Rand recently resigned from the Senate in order to become chairman of the state Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission.

“The Senate is always changing,” Rand said, adding that he believes Nesbitt will be able to do what’s needed as the majority leader.

Recently questions have arisen about Nesbitt’s ability to match the presence that Rand left in the Senate.

“I am confident that I speak for the entire Senate when I say that [Tony Rand’s] service and expertise in this institution are unmatched and unlikely to ever be,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight, D-Beaufort.

Sen. David Hoyle, D-Gaston, also acknowledged the magnitude of Rand’s decision to leave the Senate.

“It’s obvious it’s a big void to be filled. [Rand] is a proven leader. He is knowledgeable and a master of the game, and politics, to some degree, is a game,” he said. But he added that Nesbitt, who is chairman of both the Judiciary I Committee and the Select Committee on Economic Recovery, has a lot of experience in the Senate as well.

One major difference between Nesbitt and Rand is their understanding of the business aspect of the Senate, Hoyle said.

“[Rand] probably leaned more towards the business community and is more tuned into business than Nesbitt, but Nesbitt has assured the rest of the Senate that he will get close to the business community to keep the Senate’s involvement with the economy,” he said.

Hoyle also said he did not think there would be any major changes in the near future due to the upcoming state elections—which will take place November 2010—and that the goal now is to manage the budget and start preparing for next year’s elections.

“Changes will come after the next election... and that time will go by real quick,” he said. He noted that even though Nesbitt and Basnight should remain as the majority leader and Senate president pro tempore, respectively, there will be plenty of departures, retirements and some heavily contested elections.

“November is going to bring some pretty tough elections,” Hoyle said.


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