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Co-Speaker Not Detered By Excommunication Vote

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — North Carolina Republicans on Sunday excommunicated the GOP politician with the greatest statewide clout, barring House co-Speaker Richard Morgan from holding any party post for five years. Morgan said he will not be deterred by the group's decision.

"These folks behind these resolutions do not have the standing to challenge my Republican credentials over 30 years," Morgan said.

The action by the party's Executive Committee means Morgan cannot play a role within the party, even so much as a precinct chairman. He was kicked out of spots on the 550-member Executive Committee and the 50-member Central Committee, which wields more power and approved the anti-Morgan resolution on Friday.

The decision appears to be a first for the party.

"We regret that human events have led to this outcome," state GOP political director Bill Peaslee said.

Said Rep. Sam Ellis, of Wake County: "Our agenda has totally been thwarted by this one man's efforts."

About 170 Executive Committee members were on hand for the voice vote, which was not unanimous, Peaslee said.

The party vote does not affect Morgan's role as co-leader of the state House.

"What it mostly does is put a bulls eye on his back," Ellis said. "He has a primary opponent that rose from within his own district."

Rep. David Miner, of Cary, said the discord could keep Republicans from turning out at the polls.

"I think it could possibly hurt us in November in the general elections against the Democrats," Miner said.

Morgan said his Republican foes are nothing more than extremists who want to cause trouble. He believes the majority of his Moore County constituents approve of the job he is doing.

Peggy Crutchfield, Morgan's Republican challenger in the upcoming July 20 primary, believes the party's action against Morgan will influence voters.

"They're going to have to sift through this information that occurred yesterday [Sunday] and decide if this is the type of Republican they want representing them," she said.

Morgan said he was focused on his job of helping run the House in a way that encourages the state to be more business-friendly and tax-efficient rather than dealing with the outrage of his political opponents.

The 52-year-old said his party contributions over 30 years include work on campaigns to elect presidents, senators and Congress members.

"The folks behind these resolutions just do not have the standing to challenge my Republican credentials," Morgan said. "They have not made as much a contribution to the party as I have over the past 30 years."

Republicans branded Morgan disloyal for building a power-sharing coalition with Democrats in the state House that netted him the title of co-speaker.

Morgan angered Republican lawmakers and power-brokers after the 2002 election, when a GOP legislator changed parties and put the House into a 60-60 deadlock.

As Rep. Leo Daughtry, R-Johnston, led a conservative fight for the speakership, Morgan forged a coalition with Democrats and a handful of Republicans that named him and Rep. Jim Black, D-Mecklenburg, as co-speakers.

The conservative wing said Morgan since has betrayed the party in his work with Democrats, favoring the 15 or so Republicans who side with him by handing them key committee posts and leaving the rest of the GOP representatives in the cold. They also accuse him of recruiting candidates to run against Republican legislators.

"Republicans can sometimes be their own worst enemy," Miner said. "Sometimes, we shoot ourselves in our foot. Unfortunately, we should be united, and that should be the story coming out of the convention. But it's not."