Commentary

Has confrontational senator finally gone too far?

Senator Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County

Senator Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County

At some point, you’d think it would have to catch up with Senator Bob Rucho. The quick-tempered Charlotte lawmaker who once resigned (temporarily as it turned out) as chair of the Senate Finance Committee in a huff and who infamously tweeted in December 2013 “Justice Robert’s pen & Obamacare has done more damage to the USA then the swords of the Nazis,Soviets & terrorists combined,” has run into trouble again this week. This time, however, the controversy involves more than just his temper and his virtual mouth — it involves how he is performing his official duties. As Brian Sewell of Appalachian Voices explained in a post entitled “A Crass Abuse of Power in the N.C. Senate” the other day, the latest offense involved Rucho’s failure to abide by Senate rules in ramming through a bill the other day to wreak havoc in the state’s renewable energy industry.

Now, this morning Charlotte Observer editorial page editor Taylor Batten lays out the grisly details in a post entitled “Do rules not apply to Bob Rucho?”:

“We’ve watched for years as Bob Rucho’s thirst for power has grown insatiable. With each bit of authority he was given, the state senator and retired dentist from Matthews became increasingly brazen.

Now, even some of his fellow Republicans in the Senate have had enough.

Rucho declared a bill had passed in his Senate Finance Committee Wednesday even though a voice vote suggested it had failed. Rucho may have violated Senate rules by not allowing a show of hands instead of the voice vote despite a request for one from a committee member.

Two of Rucho’s fellow Republicans on the committee objected. Craig Jarvis of the News & Observer reports that Sen. Jerry Tillman, a seven-term Republican from Archdale, told Rucho, ‘It wasn’t even close’ after the voice vote. And Sen. John Alexander, R-Wake, also voted against the bill and was frustrated with Rucho’s heavy-handedness. Sen. Jeff Jackson, a Charlotte Democrat, called Rucho’s act ‘a crass abuse of power.’

The bill in question, HB 332, freezes the state’s renewable energy standards. It was pushed through the House by Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherford, a former manager at Duke Energy. Rucho refused to allow debate on that portion of the bill, turning away four members of the public who intended to comment for and against the proposal, WRAL reported.

Senate rules say if ‘division’ – a show of hands or standing up to vote – is requested, the presiding officer shall call for a vote on that. If division is desired by one-fifth of those present, the presiding officer shall conduct a vote on the bill by a show of hands. Instead, Rucho declared that it was his prerogative as chairman to not ask for a show of hands and just declare who won the voice vote. (There seems to be internal debate about whether the rule applies to committees or only on the Senate floor.)

Many of those present say the ‘Nos’ were louder than the “Ayes.” But Rucho insisted it had passed and adjourned the meeting.

So this is (one reason) why Charlotte radio host Keith Larson calls Rucho “Napoleon Rucho.” His thirst for power knows no bounds, his arrogance about how democracy works consistent.

If the renewable energy bill is wise policy and had the support of the committee, what does Rucho fear from a show of hands?”

Let’s hope, that at some point in the near future, Rucho’s GOP colleagues convince the gentleman from Mecklenburg to take some deep breaths and deep six the “angry, perpetually aggrieved man” shtick. After all, the guy’s actually been one of the most powerful men in the state for some time. One shudders to think what he would do or say if he ever finds himself in the minority on Jones Street again someday.

6 Comments


  1. love my state

    May 22, 2015 at 9:20 am

    more to the point, let’s hope his constituents send him packing – but unfortunately, he’s also got the ALEC blessing, so he’ll be running for DC in the near future.

  2. Steve Harrison

    May 22, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Since nobody else seems to want to reveal one of the other reasons for the nickname, I’ll do it: Rucho suffers from ASMS (Angry Short Man Syndrome) and is compelled to exert whatever power he can over others, whether they’re vertically challenged or not. He will eventually have his Waterloo, though…

  3. LayintheSmakDown

    May 22, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Actually he is doing the right thing, these devastating subsidies are harmful to all NC citizens and have no reason to be on the books.
    ….
    And we need more tweets like the 12/13 quoted above, the truth needs to be out more often.

  4. Alan

    May 23, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    Please, cite some credible evidence to show us all that “these devastating subsidies are harmful to all NC citizens”. Like anything else you post, it’ll be unsubstantiated nonsense.

  5. LayintheSmakDown

    May 24, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Have you checked your power bill? A good bit of those increases sum it up really well, and think about the poor who have to pay those rates. I can’t tell you how many poor people I encountered this winter whose bills were going up so much and they were not using more electricity, and the winter was relatively mild.

  6. LayintheSmakDown

    May 24, 2015 at 10:39 am

    And you can also google power rates by source to see the huge cost variable of the renewables. Here is one example that shows the effects in several countries.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source

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