RALEIGH – There have been plenty of controversial figures over the years in North Carolina politics, but Richard Morgan would probably make the short list of most notable. After breaking the mold for political power sharing arrangements, a legal fall out for bribes that sent him to prison, and a a few unsuccessful attempts at resurrecting a political career, Morgan has died at the age of 66.
‘Morgan died Wednesday at Duke University Medical Center, according to Randy Hussey with Kennedy Funeral Home in Robbins, which is handling his services. Hussey said late Thursday he had no information about Morgan’s cause of death.
In 2003, the Moore County insurance company owner brokered a first-of-its-kind deal in the state with Democrats to share speakership duties with Jim Black when the chamber was split equally between 60 Democrats and 60 Republicans. The co-speakership lasted two years, and Morgan lost his House seat in 2006 in a Republican primary as GOP factions fought over his decision and those of his allies to work with Democrats. A chief GOP foe of Morgan’s was Art Pope, a former legislator and prolific donor to conservative causes.”
Morgan made enemies out of a lot of conservatives through his peculiar power sharing arrangements with one of the most corrupt North Carolina politicians in recent history, Jim Black.
Black went to prison in 2007 for bribes, and was convicted in state courts for bribing a Republican lawmaker to switch parties and support him for Speaker in 2003.
“Current GOP House Speaker Tim Moore of Cleveland County, who was in his first term in the legislature in 2003 when he voted for the Black-Morgan co-speakership, said late Thursday that Morgan “made a difference” in the House and for the entire state.
“I found him to be a man of strong conviction and strong will,” Moore said in a brief interview.
Morgan originally joined the House in 1991 and four years later became the powerful rules committee chairman when Republicans took over the House for the first time in 100 years.
Morgan worked in GOP Gov. Jim Holshouser’s administration in the mid-1970s. Morgan ran campaigns while learning age from the powerful Congressional Club, the organization of then-U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms. It was an unusual connection for Morgan, who was considered a moderate Republican.”
Morgan’s cause of death has not been announced. His funeral will be held on Sunday.