by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The office of Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, has fun with its announcement that Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, plans to retire at the end of his current term.
Senate Bull Moose Heading Out to Pasture
Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca to Retire in 2016
Hendersonville, N.C. – The “part grizzly bear, part teddy bear” Senate Rules Chairman who has been a fixture of state government, a relentless advocate for Western North Carolina, and a master of memorable retorts and one-liners announced Monday that the current term – his seventh – will be his last.
Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson), a successful entrepreneur and bail bondsman from Hendersonville, was first elected to the state Senate in 2002. After serving one term getting battered in the minority, Apodaca decided to dedicate much of his early legislative career to building the Republican Senate political machinery into an organization that could compete with the Democrats’ nationally-recognized caucus operation.
Apodaca was often the Senate’s closer in candidate recruitment, goading prospective candidates into running with one-liners like: “You can’t win if you don’t run” and dispensing political advice always followed by a reminder that he’d never lost an election.
Apodaca guided the political operation during the 2010 election, when Republicans took control of the Senate for the first time in 140 years. In the majority, he rose to the Senate’s second most powerful post, Chairman of the Rules Committee, where he controls the flow of legislation and steers the caucus agenda.
“All good things must come to an end,” Apodaca said. “It has been the honor of my lifetime to serve the people of Western North Carolina in the state Senate. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to my constituents, my wonderful wife, my two sons, and countless legislative colleagues and friends.
“The fact that a mountain bail bondsman with the last name of ‘Apodaca’ rose to become a legislative leader is proof that anything is possible in America. I’m proud that the conservative reforms we’ve passed have set North Carolina on a more fiscally responsible path. That was my goal all along.”