News: Quick Takes

Powerful former N.C. Senate leader Basnight dies

Senate leader Marc Basnight, D-Dare, in 2009.
Senate leader Marc Basnight, D-Dare, in 2009.

Marc Basnight, perhaps the most powerful figure in N.C. politics during the first decade of the 21st century, has died.

Basnight, 73, led the state Senate as president pro tempore for 18 years from 1993 through 2010. The Democrat represented his home Dare County and other parts of eastern North Carolina.

He died Monday, Dec. 28. The cause of death has not been released, but Basnight had faced an extended battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

His political foe and eventual successor, current Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, responded to the news.

“Sen. Basnight and the institution of the Senate are in many ways inseparable,” Berger said in an emailed statement. “He left his mark on the body, and therefore the state, over his nearly two decades of leadership.

“Sen. Basnight loved people. I used to hear that he’d stop along the way from the Outer Banks to Raleigh just to speak to strangers and hear what they had to say. He loved people, and they loved him back.

“I will always remember the grace with which Sen. Basnight conducted the 2011 transition,” said Berger, who took over from Basnight after Republicans routed Democrats in the 2010 legislative elections. “He spared no effort and denied no request. He could wage political battle with the best of them, but he always put the institution of the Senate, as a symbol of the people’s representative government, first.

“He’s one of a kind, and I will miss him.”