Republican Kathy Harrington of Gastonia First Woman Elected as NC Senate Majority Leader

RALEIGH – Of the many notable political developments in 2020, the success of Republican women at the ballot box and the growth of their influence is sometimes overlooked as one of them. The trend, of course, applies to North Carolina, too, and is now reaffirmed by the election of Sen. Kathy Harrington (R-Gastonia) as N.C. Senate Majority Leader.

From the Raleigh News & Observer:

“In a meeting Monday afternoon, Republicans unanimously elected the first female majority leader in North Carolina’s state Senate since the position was created in 1977.

Sen. Kathy Harrington, of Gastonia, was selected to replace Sen. Harry Brown of Jacksonville, who had served as Senate majority leader since 2011. Brown, who is also the lead budget writer, announced his retirement last year. […]

The Senate’s majority leader is the second in command to the Senate President Pro Tem, who is the highest-ranking officer in the state legislature. Berger was re-nominated Monday, all but ensuring he will keep the position he has held since 2011.

Harrington has served in the Senate since that same year, when Republicans took the majority in both chambers. She currently co-chairs the appropriations committee and is well-known among her colleagues for her work behind the scenes in the last 10 years.

“It was great news to hear her name mentioned for that role. She is what I consider a quiet giant,” said Susan Vick, lobbyist and general counsel for Fetzer Strategic Partners. “She is a workhorse and gets things done, but it is often very quietly, very collaboratively.” […]”

From D.C., to local political arenas, a concerted effort by the GOP to recruit more women as candidates combined with an overflowing pool of grounded, successful, driven, conservative women interested in public service and leadership to result in a wave of election successes.

While it has risen to be remarkable in terms of numbers over the last couple cycles, female leaders are hardly new, as evidenced by Harrington herself, but demonstrated more clearly by the fact that she is the second woman to lead the Republican caucus in the N.C. Senate.

Betty Cochran was elected leader when Republicans had a minority in the N.C. Senate in 1995 – a quarter century ago. As it turns out, focusing on individuals, and not merely on the politics of identity, has a way of producing diverse leaders with out the need for ‘equity’ seminars.

The cynical take on praises from one of the biggest lobbying firms on Jones Street notwithstanding, Harrington has been doing real work on behalf of Republican majorities over the last decade. Not just any decade, either, but one in which Republicans achieved more in terms of reining in spending, reducing the burden of state government on the people, and defending core values than at any time over last 50 years or more.

Such work has obviously gained Harrington the confidence of her caucus colleagues. Conservatives can hope that, as Majority Leader, she will help keep the Republican caucus on a resolute path continuing toward more fiscally conservative and constitutionally-bound state government.

Read more about Harrington’s election, and other caucus developments here.

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