President Obama has something North Carolina is missing, something he could give us. And we have something he is missing, something we could give him. What he needs is an active Republican to serve as Secretary of Commerce and work within the Democratic administration.
  What we need is to have somebody from North Carolina in Obama’s cabinet. So far the new president has left us out. It would be a blessing to have a cabinet member who cares about our state and will be there when North Carolina folks need help.
  So, there may be potential here for something that is good for both Obama and North Carolina.
  We have lots of good people who can bring a bipartisan imprint to Obama’s cabinet. They are Republicans who have relevant experience and have shown they can work with Democrats.
Here are a few candidates:
  {mosimage}Former U.S. Senator Lauch Faircloth has all the resume qualifications for Commerce Secretary. He is a Republican, a real-life businessman, and a former U.S. Senator. More than that, he has already proved that he can serve as Secretary of the Department of Commerce in a Democratic administration. He did just that during Jim Hunt’s first two terms as governor. Of course Faircloth was, himself, a Democrat back then. But he was a conservative, much more so than Hunt or most of the other members of Hunt’s cabinet. Nevertheless, he worked pragmatically and loyally within the framework of Hunt’s program.
  Former U.S. Senator and Congressman Jim Broyhill is another former North Carolina Secretary of Commerce who might be a perfect candidate if he were a year or two younger.
  Another North Carolina Republican with relevant experience in business and government is Luther Hodges, Jr. He served as Undersecretary of the U. S. Department of Commerce in 1979 and as the first Deputy Secretary of Commerce in 1980, in the Carter administration. Although, like Faircloth, Hodges was a Democrat at the time, he certainly demonstrated that he could work in a leadership position in the Department of Commerce under a Democratic president.
  Former Governor and U.S. Congressman Jim Martin has maintained his Washington contacts and knows the economic development game. A scientist with a PhD in chemistry, he understands the importance of education and scientific research to business and economic development. Although a strong Republican, he is collegial and would be a good player on Obama’s team.
  There are hosts of other North Carolina Republicans who ought to be on Obama’s list for Secretary of Commerce, including several Charlotte mayors, whose roles required them to be an active participant in the business recruitment efforts of their city. Current mayor Pat McCrory and former mayors Richard Vinroot and Eddie Knox come to mind as Republicans who would welcome another chance to serve the public, even under Democratic leadership.
  A good case can be made for all these Republicans. But the most likely North Carolina Republican to get Obama’s attention is former furniture executive Dave Phillips. He just stepped down as George Bush’s Ambassador to Estonia. Phillips may be the strongest Republican of the group, having raised thousands and thousands of dollars for Bush’s presidential campaigns. But he may also have the strongest case for working successfully in a Democratic administration, having served as North Carolina Secretary of Commerce under Hunt in the late 1990s.
  In his role as the state’s chief business development officer, Phillips had no problem working hand in hand with Hunt to beef up business recruitment efforts and to sell North Carolina. Surrounded by Democrats in the Hunt administration, Phillips showed could be loyal to Hunt and work pragmatically for the governor’s goals without giving up his own core beliefs.

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