May 3, 2006
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BY MATTHEW MORIARTY: Staff Writer
Joe Boylan pulled a major upset Tuesday, defeating entrenched Speaker Pro Tem Richard Morgan in a Republican primary for state House, according to unofficial returns.
No Democrat filed for House District 52, ensuring that Boylan will be formally elected in November. It will be the first public office for Boylan.
“I think this is a message to politicians across the state that voters want access,” Boylan said, when reached at a celebration party in downtown Carthage.
The mood was jubilant, he said.
“Oh, it’s crazy,” he said. “I haven’t gone through this before in my life.”
Morgan, who has held office since 1990, said he has been proud to serve the people of Moore County.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege,” he said. “It’s something that can never be taken from me.”
His wife Cindy won election to the county Board of Commissioners.
“One Morgan may step backward,” he said. “Another Morgan is stepping forward. ... I’m proud of my wife. I love her so much. So, there is some joy that comes with tonight.”
Morgan thanked his supporters and the people of Moore County. He said he is not sure what the future may hold for him. He declined to elaborate further on the outcome of the election.
Boylan, who campaigned door-to-door all over Moore County and lost nearly 20 pounds in the process, received a lot of outside help, including support from the North Carolina Republican Party, which basically declared war on Morgan.
Boylan and state GOP leaders said the results validate their arguments that Morgan betrayed the party with the power-sharing deal he made with Democrats in 2003 to become co-speaker, that he supported a billion dollars in tax increases by not voting to roll back what were suppposed to be temporary taxes, and backed a redistricting plan that hurt Republicans. Morgan has denied those accusations.
The state party kicked Morgan off the Executive Committee. The committee voted to take the unprecedented action of doing everything within its power to help his primary opponent win.
Boylan, a social and fiscal conservative, owns several Great Clips hair salons in North Carolina. He says he is for property rights, is against forced annexation, is pro-life, suppports an amendment to ban gay marriage and wants to work on the problem of illegal immigration.
The unofficial results showed that Boylan garnered 52 percent of the vote (4,188), not including provisional ballots. Morgan picked up 48 percent of the vote (3,855).
Boylan won all but six of the precincts. Morgan carried Knollwood, North Southern Pines, Pinehurst B2, Pinehurst C, Seven Lakes and West End. He won large margins of victory in Pinehurst C and Seven Lakes, but it was not enough.
The state party had never intervened in a primary before, but it believed that the time had come for drastic measures.
At a rally for Boylan last week, state GOP Chairman Ferrell Blount called this the most important race in the state.
Bill Peaslee, chief of staff of the North Carolina Republican Party, said party leaders were pleased with Boylan’s victory.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the voters of Moore County for siding with us to make sure Moore County has a Republican representative who will vote with the Republican caucus,” he said from state GOP headquarters in Raleigh Tuesday night. “We took the unprecedented step of being involved in a primary reluctantly. It is not our practice to be involved in a primary. We felt we had to take this drastic step. The voters of Moore County needed to be clearly informed about what Richard Morgan was doing.
“Republicans have the expectation the Republican elected officials will vote Republican, particularly on that first vote to elect the body’s leader. This is the first Republican victory of 2006. We expect many more.”
As for Morgan and his supporters, Peaslee said the state party hopes they will eventually come back into the fold.
“We really want them to come home,” he said.
Blount echoed those words.
“(Republican voters) have little tolerance for those who would leave the party to negotiate a deal with the Democrats for their own self-aggrandizement,” he said, “or use the power entrusted to them by the people to pursue personal political vendettas.
“The Republican Party, while saddened by the friction caused by this primary, is stronger because of this primary.”
Morgan survived a similar attempt at his seat two years ago when he narrowly defeated another newcomer, Peggy Crutchfield.
Morgan claimed that Crutchfield was simply a puppet of several Wake County politicians.
Boylan figured he “would be painted with the same brush,” as he said, so he decided he might as well go for the endorsement of the state party. He said he never thought he would get the amount of help that he did.
The party contributed money to his campaign, and party leaders even came to Moore County to rally on his behalf.
Some have argued that Boylan will owe them once he gets to Raleigh. Boylan said that will not be the case.
“I’m not beholden to anybody except the people of Moore County,” Boylan said. “In beating Richard Morgan, I satisfied that requirement. I don’t owe them anything except for thanks.”
In 2004, Morgan won all of the Pinehurst precincts, long considered his stronghold. But Boylan managed to take away Pinehurst A and B1. He believes the secret to grabbing Morgan territory was getting out and speaking to the voters face to face.
Morgan had more money to spend than Boylan, and he chose to put it into television, radio and print advertisements. Boylan said he won by listening to the concerns of the people.
Voters in Moore County, as well as across the state, are worried about such conservative issues as involuntary annexation, eminent domain and property rights, Boylan said. At the polls today, voters told Boylan they were putting their trust in him.
Pinehurst’s desire to annex Pinewild became an issue in the campaign. Boylan fell short of promising to help those who are against the annexation.
“I can make sure to work as hard for the people as I possibly can,” he said. “I can’t make promises about legislation that might be passed. I do promise to work as hard as I can.”
Morgan supporters have said that Boylan’s lack of seniority will hurt him in the General Assembly. Boylan said he is not concerned about that.
He said: “I don’t need seniority to vote against a tax increase.”
Matthew Moriarty may be reached at 693-2479 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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