Local News

Charlotte Paper Joins Others In Calling For Black's Resignation

Posted March 24, 2006 7:04 a.m. EST

— There is new pressure on House Speaker Jim Black to resign.

The Charlotte Observer, Black's hometown newspaper and the largest in the state,

urged the speaker to step aside

because of the criminal investigation into his campaign finances.

"It's a legitimate paper, and I think it's very damaging," said Marc Rotterman, a Republican strategist.

Referring to what he calls a culture of corruption, Rotterman is advising all Republican candidates to hang Speaker Black and his troubles around the neck of all Democrats.

"I wouldn't say they're licking their chops, but obviously it's an opportunity to take back the state house," he said.

With this increasing pressure, the logical question is just how strong and how steady is the speaker's power base?

The Observer editorial board cites Black's compromised leadership. He's taken heat for allowing Meredith Norris, a lobbyist, to serve as his political director. He's accused of funneling illegal money to help his allies, like Michael Decker.

Now, if the district attorney finds fault, Black could face criminal charges.

"Well, we're certainly at a new level looking at what he's done," said Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake County.

Black is powerful and resilient. So far, lawmakers won't abandon him publicly. No question it's creating tension -- especially for his fellow Democrats.

"It may be a distraction, but we're working on education, health care, jobs," said Rep. Joe Hackney, D-House Majority Leader. "We're doing our jobs. Do you see him banging the gavel in May? We're here doing our jobs. I have no reason to think he won't be."