Buck Newton: Our next AG?

newtonpressThe Democrats have come after Wilson’s Buck Newton hard.  In 2010, they slandered him as a drug dealer.  (Newton went on to knock off a long-time incumbent Democrat senator.)  In 2012, his Democrat opponent spent some of the general election campaign in the custody of the state.

Newton, a state senator and former aide to the late US senator Jesse Helms, is making all the right enemies.  He’s earned the wrath of the pro-abortion lobby and won praise from the religious right for his passionate defense of the marriage amendment to the state constitution.  For 2013, Civitas gave him a conservative effectiveness ranking of 89.5 out of a possible 100 points. 

Newton — who has been in the midst of some of the General Assembly’s toughest fights since 2011 — is now setting his sights on the top job at North Carolina’s Department of Justice.  Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) is vacating the job to take on Republican Pat McCrory in the 2016 governor’s race.

Cooper has been running for governor since the day after he won reelection to the AG’s post in 2012.  When I caught up with Newton in Asheboro Sunday night, that was clearly on the Republican’s mind:

”North Carolinians deserve an attorney general who is going to be focused like a laser beam on standing up for our state and protecting its constitution.  We haven’t seen a whole lot of that in recent years.”

dojNewton, a practicing attorney in Wilson for sixteen years, has been chairing a state Senate panel focused on setting policy and funding priorities for North Carolina’s judiciary and law enforcement agencies. He said his time in private practice and the Senate, and his work with that General Assembly panel, have provided him tremendous insight into the positives and negatives and strengths and weaknesses of the state’s judicial branch.

Newton said one of his top priorities as attorney general will be to clean up the crime lab — where there is a three year backlog for processing evidence:

“That’s outrageous.  Victims and their families are suffering while waiting so long for evidence to get processed.  We’ve had defendants released from jail because of these delays at the lab.  We’ve also had innocent people kept in custody for a ridiculously long time while waiting for evidence to be processed.  There’s been a lot of news coverage about this problem.  Our current attorney general gave some lip service to it. But it doesn’t appear that much has been done about it.”

Newton says that, under his leadership, the Department of Justice will be more active in challenging regulations and mandates handed down from Washington:ncgop

“We’ve got to find the right footing — whether we’re talking about amnesty for illegal aliens or burdensome, expensive EPA regulations — to protect the people of North Carolina from the federal government.”

Newton said he will be sad to leave the Senate, but is excited about the challenges awaiting at the Department of Justice:

“I believe, in the Senate, I’ve accomplished an awful lot of what I set out to do.  It’s time for some new blood to step in there and serve.

I am especially proud of our work to balance the state budget without any tax increases. I’m proud of our work on tax reform, as well as charter schools and other aspects of education reform. I think we did some really good work in finding a way for Electricities to sell its assets to Duke.  That development helped a lot of eastern North Carolina communities find a way to start digging out from under a financial mess. It also removed a tremendous impediment to economic development in that part of the state.”

15 thoughts on “Buck Newton: Our next AG?

  1. Roy Cooper has been running for governor ever since he was sworn in as AG. He apparently thought AG stood for Aspiring Governor. Cooper has been a completely incompetent administrator in the AG’s office as shown by the SBI and Crime Lab problems, and a left wing zealot ideologically. He demonstrated time after time a willingness to stab the state Constitution in the back if it would get his left wing ideology ahead.

    Buck Newton seems like he would be a refreshing change, but I have gotten cynical enough about legislators that I want to review his voting record before I get too gung ho for him. Corporate welfare issues, in particular, can be a deal breaker, as could drivers licenses for illegal aliens. I hope he checks out, as this is a race I would be happy to write a check to help get a good guy elected to make a needed change.

  2. Question for Brant and readers – why didn’t the GOP put forward a candidate for AG in the last election?

    1. That’s the same question I asked my GOP County leadership at the time. They said the consensus was that Cooper was “unbeatable.”

      And, he was unbeatable, but only because enough — I would call them “gutless Party hacks,” but that would be insensitive — decided to roll over like a John Boehner clone, and refuse to field a candidate in that race.

      Conservatives should never allow any Democrat (or RINO) to run, unchallenged, for any office.

      1. So knowing that we faced an over-reaching federal government and had to contend with Eric Holder, an out of control EPA, etc. they decided not to field a candidate? That’s unacceptable, every race should have a candidate. Elections are opportunities to educate voters. No candidate guarantees a loss…what a brilliant strategy.

    2. There was lots of discussion at the time on the Talking About Politics (TAP) site (which used to have vibrant political discussion before its two owners turned it into a mutual admiration site between the two of them), and NCGOP Vice Chairman Wayne King seemed to be exercising a huge amount of control over Council of State nominations. King seems to have intimidated and pressured some candidates into not running. That clearly happened with the runoff for State Auditor, leading the party to getting stuck with a real dud of a nominee who embarassed the whole Council of State ticket. While the details of what was done in some races was spelled out, the comments on the AG race did not name names but said that King discouraged one or more prospective candidates from running in that race.

      Actually, the AG’s race should have been a GOP target given the SBI scandal that weakened Cooper, and I remember one accusation that King was actually deliberately running interference for Cooper in getting him a free ride.

      I wish I could link to some of the old threads on that site, but the last stage of making the TAP site a two man mutual admiration site involved purging their forum archives. That purge just happened to have occured at a very convenient time for Dee Stewart as there was some interesting material on him and his past activities in those archives that would have made for some good links for the current state chairman’s race.

      1. Agreed, they could have won the race and had an AG to take on Eric Holder instead of Cooper who carries the Holder pom poms.

  3. I’ve heard that Newton is very fond of Ken Cuccinelli’s “style” when he served as Attorney General in Virginia. Anyone that is a fan of Cuccinelli is worth consideration.

  4. any truth to the rumour that Senator Barringer is also thinking about running?

      1. Asked by whom? While there needs to be a coordinated recruitment effort for Council of State, we need to avoid the Wayne King three ring circus of four years ago that resulted in an awful nominee for State Auditor and a blank spot for AG for the first time in over half a century. Any official recruitment effort should also be communicated to the county parties, and I have not heard anything of that to this point.

  5. Though Newton would probably make a fine AG, let’s hope it isn’t a trap. Many a fine officeholder has been “moved up in order to move them out”. Consiering Newton’s conservative record in the state senate, where the battle is raging to counter a state House that has lost it’s way, we would be vacating a hard won seat for a slim chance of a better AG. Can a GOP backed candidate win a statewide cabinet office, as it is presently conducting itself? A million dollar question.

  6. Buck Newton will be a great candidate for AG. But the party has to get serious about fundraising for the Council of State—otherwise Newton and all the others will go down to defeat. Right now, McCrory is the problem. He has split the party and, if past experience is any guide, will do nothing to help our candidates down the ballot while gobbling up all the money he can for himself. The new state chairman, whoever he is, will have to demonstrate incredible leadership in 2016.

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