Berger to continue as Senate leader, Newton heads majority caucus
On Monday, the N.C. Senate Senate Republican Caucus elected its leadership team, keeping Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, in the role of Senate president pro tempore, frequently simplified to Senate leader. Berger will serve his 13th year in the Senate’s top job in 2023.
The Senate GOP caucus elected Sen. Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus, as their new majority leader.
“I’d like to thank my colleagues for entrusting me to lead the Senate for another term. I look forward to another two years of helping create a better North Carolina for all,” Sen. Berger said in a press statement Monday evening.
“This is a great honor,” Newton said of his new role. “I’m so appreciative of the support I have received from my colleagues and am ready to build on our prior success of lowering taxes, improving the quality of education, and spending responsibly.”
Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, was elected the N.C. Senate’s deputy president pro tempore.
Senate whips will be Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond; and Sen. Jim Perry, R-Lenoir.
The caucus elected Sen. Carl Ford, R-Rowan, as caucus liaison.
Going into the January 2023 legislative long session Republicans have a supermajority of 30 seats, meaning they potentially have the votes to override a veto from Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper. N.C. Democrats campaigned heavily through the 2022 election season on a message to voters to stop a Republican supermajority. In the N.C. House, Republicans are one seat shy of that supermajority, winning 71, rather than the 72, of the 120 seats it would take to override a veto.
Last week, Republican N.C. House members held their leadership elections, unanimously voting to give Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, a fifth term at the head of the chamber.
“We have made great strides under the last 12 years of Republican leadership in North Carolina, and I am eager to get to work with my fellow members to continue the success and the growth that has made North Carolina a beacon to the rest of the nation,” Moore said.
Berger is credited as a key architect of the Republican plan to re-imagine state policy when Republicans took the legislative supermajority in 2010, after Democrats held it for more than a century. January 2023 will mark 12 years that Berger has served as head of the chamber, steering it toward policies of lower taxes and reduced spending.
Republicans lost the supermajority in 2020, but held the majority. In November, Republican challengers beat five Democrat incumbents but lost some open races, for a net gain of two seats. In the Senate, the key wins included former state Sen. Paul Newton defeating long-time Democrat state Sen. Toby Fitch.
“This election has been a barometer for where voters want their state and country to go. The Republican platform of low taxes, job creation, expanded parental choice, and quality education, is one that reflects the needs of all North Carolinians,” Berger said after the election.
The North Carolina General Assembly is slated to gavel in for a procedural skeleton session Dec. 13, with plans to convene the long session in January 2023.
Correction: An earlier version confused returning state Sen. Buck Newton for current state Sen. Paul Newton.