Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Great North Carolinian - Jim Hunt

Above is a nice photo of former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt and current NC Secretary of State and Democratic candidate for the United States Senate Elaine Marshall. Marshall is in a close race with the incumbent U. S. Senator from North Carolina, Richard Burr.

Jim Hunt was a two-term NC Governor, two different times, serving 16 years as Governor. The ironic thing is that when he first become Governor, no NC Governor had served more than one term, or four years, (by law NC Governors could not succeed themselves). Hunt got the law changed and served 16 years. ('76 to '84 and '92 to '00).

I recall the first time I met Hunt. I had a glass of wine in each hand and was unable to shake hands with him. We were at a Democratic reception and Jay Rockefeller (John D. Rockefeller, IV), U. S. Senator from West Virgina, had ask me to go get he and I a glass of wine. When I returned, Rockefeller was with Hunt and he introduced Hunt to an embarrassed guy whose hands were both occupied with spirits (Hunt was a teetotaler). I was fortunate to met him on several other occasions and we recalled the incident with fondness.

Hunt was a very accomplished Governor, greatly improving education standards in NC and successfully recruiting much high tech industry to the state. He created the NC School for Math and Science (the first of it's kind in the nation) and the NC Biotechnology Center. He ran a very close race and a bitterly fought campaign against Jesse Helms in 1984 for the U. S. Senate. Helms slipped in on the coattails of an incumbent President, Ronald Reagan.

Hunt was on the short list for Vice President in 2000, and was highly considered for Secretary of Education by President Obama. Among many other national involvements, Hunt chaired the Carnegie Commission on Education, which created the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

In retirement, and at age 73, Hunt chairs the board of directors at two institutes named for him, and he practices law at one of the state's largest and most prestigious firms, Womble Carlyle. In my humble opinion, Jim Hunt ranks as one of the 3 greatest and most accomplished North Carolinians on the past 50 years, along with Terry Sanford and Billy Graham. Kudos to Jim Hunt, for a life of service well lived.

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