RALEIGH – The filing period for 2018 primaries opened up Monday, and Rep. John Blust (R-Greensboro) was not among those incumbents putting their name in the ring for reelection. After nine terms, stretching nearly 20 years, Blust will leave the General Assembly at the end of this term.
A consistent Conservative, never afraid to speak truth to power – whether that power was Republican or Democrat – Blust could be counted on to bring a voice of reason to the N.C. House when far too many of his same party were willing to go along with the status quo.
“Sometimes I’ve had to vote and swallow hard. I can’t say that I’ve made every vote correctly…I do think I’ve tried to do things the right way since I’ve been here.”
State lawmakers think he did just that.
— Rep. John Bell (@JohnBellNC) February 13, 2018
With his announcement Tuesday, Blust adds to a growing list of conservatives exiting the chamber after redistricting by Republican leadership seemed to weigh most heavily on the more conservative members. Beyond that, myriad legal cases have mucked up the districts and instituted court drawn maps that benefit Democrats most of all.
Blust alluded to such pressures in his speech to colleagues:
“Actually, I had been thinking about this for months and had pretty much made the decision. I thought, all year long I’m going to have second thoughts. Actually, the judges have cut off any second thoughts.”
He also left some parting shots aimed at the Jones Street Establishment, regretting that the institution hasn’t really changed for the better under Republican control, that only a few people in the General Assembly hold all the cards, and such an “inordinate amount of power” in the hands of a very few lawmakers is “not the way.”
“It’s been harder for me in some ways, in the majority, because we really didn’t stop it. […]We owe the public a lot better than we’ve given them a lot of times. I hope the people who remain here will take up the mantle and make it the great institution it ought to be.”
We hope so too. We also hope that Blust isn’t totally separating himself from the political process, as his voice will be needed to make sure North Carolina stays on the right track.
A bitter sweet ‘Congratulations’ to Rep. John Blust. It is well deserved.