Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Little North Carolina Senate History

Senator Lee Overman-NC
1910-1931
Senate Appropriations
Regardless of what side you were on in the Kay Hagan/Thom Tillis Fight of the (21st) Century, so far at least, here's some background information that not many people realize when it comes to the North Carolinian senate delegation history in Washington, DC.

Question: Over the past 73 years since the beginning of WWII in 1941, how many Senators has North Carolina sent to Washington (and brought back, pretty often, truth be told)?

Answer: 20.

Thom Tillis will be the US 21st Senator from the Old North State.


2. How many US Senators have other states had over the same time period?

Answer: 

South Carolina- 8. Smith, Hall, Maybank, Thurmond, (for the most part), Hollings, Graham, DeMint, Scott.

Mississippi- 5. Eastland, Stennis, Cochran, Lott, Wicker

Arkansas- 9. McClellan. Hodges, David Pryor, Hutchinson, Mark Pryor, Fulbright, Bumpers, Lincoln, Boozman 

Pretty easy to see that North Carolina has been a merry-go-round for US Senators relative to other states.

Question: When was the last time a North Carolina US Senator has been on the all-powerful Senate Appropriations Committee (for any appreciable length of time)?

Answer: 1931. Lee Overman. Served there for 21 years. 83 years ago.
(Cameron Morrison was on the Approps Committee for 2 short years from 1931-1933. Lauch Faircloth was the last NC Senator on Approps for 2 short years as well from 1997-1999)

'Well, so what? What does any of that have to do with the price of tea in China or me on a daily personal basis?'

A lot. You may not know it but the committees these senators and congressman are on in Washington affect you one way or another depending on whether they are a 'power' committee or not.
  • Did you know that North Carolina is the only Southern state that does not have a major defense manufacturing installation such as Boeing or Lockheed Martin?
  • Did you know that North Carolina is the only Southern state without a major automobile manufacturing facility such as BMW in South Carolina or VW in Tennessee?
There is a myriad of reasons why such companies have gone to other states ranging from tax climate, pool of qualified workers and tax incentives.

But one of the most important things that other states such as South Carolina and Mississippi have done has been to elect and keep US senators in office long enough to get on Appropriations and then serve on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee where all the major defense programs and materiel production are considered every year.

Once a US senator gets on Defense Approps and steers a few defense contracts to their home states, then the level of training for defense workers goes way up in that state and other companies such as automobile companies can come in and poach qualified workers and technicians for their manufacturing facilities.

Based on the fact that North Carolina US Senator Lee Overman served on the Senate Appropriations Committee back when dirigibles were considered 'cutting edge' defense technology, it is a fair bet to assume that even if he was able to steer any defense work to North Carolina back then, it is in some museum somewhere today.

You don't believe that having a US Senator on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Defense Subcommittee is not crucial to having defense contractors move to your state and then hire local workers at an average of $75,000-$85,000/year?

Check out the defense contracting facilities in Alaska. 48th in population. #5 in terms of defense contracts received.

No wonder. Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska served as Appropriations Chair forever it seemed. He also served as Chairman of the Defense Subcommittee for a long time before his death.

Want to see how important seniority and leadership seniority positions are in the US Senate? Look no further than the Great State of Mississippi, which in case you aren't a college football fan, has now become The #1 State for Great Football In All The Nation all of a sudden.

Senator Thad Cochran* was on the Senate Appropriations Committee and, with Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, formed a powerful nexus for securing defense contracts for Mississippi.

One story says that a defense contractor wanted to talk about their support for a program they wanted to build with federal dollars so they met in one of their offices.

'Where are you going to build this manufacturing facility?' asked the Two Senators.

'Where do you want it to be built, Senators?' answered the defense contractor lobbyist wisely.

The Two Senators took out a map of Mississippi, found the town and the county they wanted it in and pointed at it and said: 'Right there, my friend! Right there!'

And 'Right There' is where a multi-million dollar plant was built, literally in the middle of nowhere. Today it is a vibrant, growing community with great schools, and educated and almost fully employed workforce and an average salary of $75,000-$85,000/year for the line workers.

In the middle of Nowhere, Mississippi.

You tell me if having a long-term serving US Senator on the Senate Appropriations Committee isn't important to the people of North Carolina.

Even if you didn't support Thom Tillis for the US Senate, you might want to wish him well and long-life and tell him to get on the Defense Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee just as soon as he possibly can.

He might just be able to steer a drone manufacturing company to the parts of North Carolina that desperately need new solid investments and jobs.

Such as maybe 65 of the 100 North Carolina counties today.


* Fun Fact For The Day: Both MS Senators Cochran and Roger Wicker hail from the same small town in Mississippi, Pontotoc which an Indian name that means 'Land of the Hanging Grapes'. Muscadines probably.


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