Mar 5, 2004
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ANDY THOMAS: Competition: Look Out, Richard —Here Comes Peggy

It’s been a while since I panned State Rep. Richard Morgan, co-speaker of North Carolina’s House of Representatives. But he seems to be getting into more hot water lately and continually blames a “small group of discontented Republicans” for his problems.

This leads one to question his leadership ability. A good leader would not be picking fights with those in his own camp. He is fighting locally with the GOP Chairwoman Elizabeth Kelly. He is fighting with the GOP Caucus in the House. He is fighting with the GOP statewide Executive Committee. And maybe others — who knows?

After four years of residency here in Moore County, I have met with the co-speaker once, where he was quite helpful. But later he summarily brushed me off as he had other fish to fry. Having met him and followed him, I feel it is a shame that he does not seem to live up to his own potential — which I think he has.

Instead of representing the GOP, Richard seems to delight in factoring in views which are contrary to the party line. This schism within Republicans is not healthy, and following his own agenda points to putting his personal interest ahead of his electorate’s.

Constant quarreling never achieves productive results. Where I come from, somebody who is always fighting with people demonstrates abnormal insecurity, and certainly not a sign of competent leadership. Morgan cannot seem to focus on representing the good people of Moore County.

Mr. Morgan is not prone to show his cards to many of us. Nor does he genuinely seem to want to address his adversaries. When have we ever heard a “platform” that Richard represents or espouses? What does he want to achieve for us? He’s never really had to expose his views because he has been unopposed. But hark. This time we have a choice — and a good one: Peggy Crutchfield.

But let’s get back to a few of the items that have arisen concerning Morgan’s political deportment, which cast some doubt on his re-electability, scheduled for July 20 but subject to various redistricting lawsuits.

His latest campaign finance report, covering the period of July 1 to Dec. 31, 2003, lists 31 donors from outside the state of North Carolina — PACs and individuals from places such as Washington state, South Carolina, Kansas, California, Illinois, Virginia, and Connecticut. Is it normal for all of these out-of-state organizations and people to support a Moore County legislator without receiving something in return, especially when there were only 33 donors from within Moore County?

More than 20 business leaders, including some Triangle executives, have contributed $4,000 each to join Morgan’s election-year “business council.” In return for the contributions, which go into the coffers of his re-election campaign, members are granted ready e-mail and telephone access to the co-speaker, as well as invitations to roundtable discussions and social events.

Morgan accepted $4,000 apiece from Steven Bailey and Tammy Bailey, both of the same address in Chase City, Va. No occupation was listed for either, which is a violation of state law.

He also took in $4,000 each from Everett Gee and his wife Kristin, both of the same address in Keysville, Ga. No occupation was listed for Mr. Gee, who reportedly is an attorney representing tobacco companies in Virginia. Kristin’s occupation is listed as “housewife.” Why would these folks from out of state each give the maximum to the co speaker of the N.C. House?

Morgan has worked with Easley and Co-Speaker Jim Black and Senate president Marc Basnight (all Democrats) to delay tax breaks that were written into law by previous sessions of the legislature.

Morgan hired longtime Democrat Party operative and Easley administration official Sabre Faires to be his chief of staff.

Morgan has helped kill off approximately 80 pieces of legislation introduced by the House GOP leadership. Among those bills killed was a resolution paying tribute to President Bush in the fight against terrorism.

Thank goodness, we now have a very capable and respectable candidate to oppose Mr. Morgan. Peggy Crutchfield is the antithesis of Richard when it comes to community service and working with people.

She is the former director of Keep Moore County Beautiful and has just resigned after a successful six-year tenure as president of the United Way of Moore County. She is a mother and a grandmother and is a former teacher.

Peggy is known as a blender, not a divider. She works well with all types of people and is a very positive, creative, elegant lady who will make Moore County proud. She does not make enemies, even with those who may disagree with her.

She wants to go to Raleigh to represent the residents of Moore County, not to promote herself into higher levels of politics and power. The people of Moore County have always been and will continue to be her agenda. She will work with here fellow Republicans in the House to enact positive legislation.

She vows to represent and assist everyone in Moore, not just those who are on her contribution list. And she certainly won’t retaliate against those who may vote for Morgan. Take a good look at Peggy Crutchfield. We need Republican solidarity, not separation.

Andy Thomas lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at

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