Good-bye: After 35 years, Brubaker announces resignation

After 35 years in Raleigh, state Rep. Harold Brubaker is calling it quits.

Brubaker, 65, surprised many by announcing Thursday his legislative career ended with the last day of this year’s legislative session.

“For the past 35 years, it has been my honor to serve the people of Randolph County in the North Carolina House of Representatives. During my public service, I have witnessed North Carolina grow from a Southern state rich in traditional manufacturing to a growing and vibrant urban center that is truly a reflection of our great country,” he said in his official press release.

In an interview, Brubaker said he is proud of many achievements over the past three decades.

“But you know when it’s time to go,” he said.

State Sen. Jerry Tillman, Randolph/Montgomery, said he was a little caught off guard by his friend’s announcement. He said Brubaker will be hard to replace in the General Assembly.

“He has been here a long time and has done a ton of good work for the county and the state,” Tillman said.

State Rep. Pat Hurley, Randolph, said Brubaker will be missed. Raleigh will not be the same and it will be sad to lose all of the experience Brubaker has brought to the job.

“It’s gonna be a new day,” she said.

Gov. Bev Perdue’s office released the following statement on his resignation:

“Rep. Harold Brubaker has been a good friend. The North Carolina House will certainly miss his experience and depth of knowledge. His long-time service to the state and to the voters of the 78th district will be missed.”

Brubaker’s resignation leaves a wide open field. It will now be up to the Republican District 78 executive committee to field a person to serve out the rest of Brubaker’s term. That person is also presumed to be the GOP candidate to stand for election to Brubaker’s seat in the Nov. 7 general election.

Randolph County Democrats had a candidate in Joel McClosky for the District 78 seat shortly after filing began in February. However, McClosky withdrew.

Local Democratic Party Chair Jim Meredith said Brubaker’s announcement was a surprise to him. He said the Randolph County Democrats do plan to have a candidate to replace McClosky and will likely have an announcement soon.

Both parties have until Aug. 17 to have a certified candidate in place to run in the general election, according to state statutes.

Brubaker began his career as a legislator in 1977. He served as speaker of the House from 1995-98. At the time of his election to that office, he was the first Republican speaker in North Carolina since 1895 and the only Republican to hold that office in the 20th century. He counts his time in that office as one of the high points in his legislative career.

“At the beginning of my legislative career, I set the goal of being the first Republican Speaker to lead the House of Representatives, a goal that was realized in 1995,” he said. “I decided to remain in the House after my tenure as Speaker to help shape future legislative leaders within the Republican Caucus.”

Brubaker said Thursday that he feels he has accomplished that goal. He said, as the senior legislator involved with the budgeting process this year, he had a chance to work with many young members who have learned that process well.

Brubaker cited this year’s budget process as another high point for him.

He said balancing the budget in a tough economy was very important to him. People are fed up with more government and more taxes, he said. GOP budget writers were able to write a budget without a tax increase and without having to borrow money to fill the hole, he said.

“I felt very strongly about that,” he said.

One principle guided him during the process, he said.

“I told the other members of the budget committee at the beginning, we needed to ask one question,” he said. “For every budget item we asked, is it a core function of government? If the answer was no, then we didn’t need to fund it.”

Brubaker plans to spend more time with his family, on his business and at his beloved cattle farm. In his press release, he said he will be expanding the scope of Brubaker & Associates, his real estate appraisal firm, to include strategic consulting and government affairs lobbying beginning in 2013.

Brubaker seemed a little amused at the professed surprise expressed by many who learned of his decision to leave office. He said he has told many people since 2010 that his primary goal, after helping to shape a sound fiscal plan for the state, was to cultivate the people who would take over for the future.

Brubaker said he believes he has done that, and now, it’s time to leave and make room for those people.

“I’m just an old country boy and a man of my word.”

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