Politics & Government

13 Charlotte-area lawmakers to watch

House Speaker Thom Tillis and Rep. Ruth Samuelson were influential in the legislature and in their party. Both Mecklenburg County Republicans helped guarantee the county clout in Raleigh.

Now influence is more dispersed, with key leaders coming from elsewhere in the region. Here’s a look at 13 lawmakers to watch when the General Assembly convenes Wednesday:

Rep. Bill Brawley, R

Nicknamed “Bulldog” by Tillis. Third-term Republican from Matthews co-chaired Finance and Transportation committees last session and had a hand in issues from the airport to the Panthers unsuccessful request for state stadium money.

Becky Carney, D

Under Tillis, she chaired the Ethics Committee and was vice chair of Transportation. Veteran Charlotte lawmaker starts her 7th term with goodwill from many Republicans and a new desk – in the front row.

Rob Bryan, R

With Teach for America, he once taught at an inner-city Los Angeles elementary school. In Raleigh the first term Charlotte Republican was an architect of a school voucher program. Struck down by a Superior Court judge, it has since been appealed to the Supreme Court.

Rep. Tricia Cotham, D

Former educator from Matthews has a good relationship with new speaker. Last year she was one of handful of Democrats who voted for the GOP budget, largely because of its teacher raises. Already she’s gotten new, bigger office.

Rep. Mike Hager, R

Former Duke Energy employee from Rutherfordton came in with GOP’s 2010 sweep. Now he’s the new House majority leader. Was a primary sponsor of Gov. Pat McCrory’s original coal ash plan.

Sen. Kathy Harrington, R

Gastonia real estate broker in her third term co-chaired the influential Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Craig Horn, R

Third-termer from Weddington has become a leader on education issues; he’s expected to lead Education panel and co-chair Appropriations subcommittee on education. A former Russian linguist, he chairs the Winston Churchill Society of North Carolina.

Rep. Charles Jeter, R

Second-term lawmaker from Huntersville is fourth in party leadership. As House GOP conference chair, he’ll raise money to elect Republicans. The businessman from a swing district has bucked his party on some issues, including abortion.

Rep. Linda Johnson, R

Only about a dozen House members claim more seniority than the eight-term lawmaker from Kannapolis. Last session she chaired the appropriations and education committees.

Rep. Tim Moore, R

Kings Mountain lawyer first saw the legislature as a high school page. Now in his 7th term, he’ll return as House speaker.

Sen. Bob Rucho, R

Entering his 9th term, the former Matthews dentist is second in Senate seniority. Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, he was a driving force behind 2013 tax changes.

Rep. Jason Saine, R

Lincolnton lawmaker who barely lost majority leader post was named national Legislator of the Year by ALEC, the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council. Co-chairs a Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Information Technology.

Sen. Tommy Tucker, R

Waxhaw Republican in his third term has shown an abiding interest in foster care, child protection and health services while being a sharp critic of state agencies that oversee them. “He’ll speak up and say what everybody else wants to say,” one legislative staffer says.