• 59°

Marc Basnight, longest serving North Carolina Senate leader, dies Monday afternoon

By Gary D. Robertson, Associated Press

Former state Sen. Marc Basnight, an Outer Banks Democrat who became one of North Carolina’s most powerful leaders while serving a record 18 years as Senate leader, died on Monday, a family spokesperson said. He was 73.

Basnight, who had been ill for years with what was later diagnosed as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, died on Monday afternoon at his Manteo home, according to Amy Fulk, who served as Basnight’s chief of staff while he had the chamber’s top job.

Despite humble beginnings and little formal education, Basnight rose through state government politics to serve in the Senate for 26 years. His nine two-year terms as Senate president pro tempore made him the longest-serving head of a legislative body in North Carolina history.

Basnight was a legislative powerhouse involved in enacting every significant state policy of the 1990s and 2000s, including passage of the state lottery, a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars and improved public education and ethics reforms.

He resigned from his seat in early 2011, weeks before Republicans took over the chamber for the first time in over a century due to electoral wins the previous November. But Basnight told reporters at the time that he was already struggling with a degenerative nerve disease that affected his balance and speech.

Democrats who served and learned as lieutenants under Basnight in the Senate are numerous, including a future governor, Beverly Perdue; the late U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan; and current Gov. Roy Cooper, who was Senate majority leader in the late 1990s.

“North Carolina lost a giant today with the passing of my friend,” Cooper said in a news release. “His positive influence on our public universities, transportation, environment and more will be felt for decades. A man of great power and influence, his humble, common touch made everyone he met feel special … He believed in North Carolina and its people, and our state is stronger because of him.”

Though he never went to college himself, Basnight made it a mission to keep the University of North Carolina system a national leader in higher education. Basnight was perhaps proudest of passage of a $3.1 billion higher education bond package in 2000 that was approved later that year in a statewide referendum.

After Basnight left office, his family still operated the Lone Cedar Cafe on the Outer Banks. The new bridge over Oregon Inlet, connecting Hatteras Island to the Outer Banks mainland, was named for Basnight.

His wife, Sandy, died in 2007 after being treated for leukemia. His survivors include two daughters. Funeral arrangements were incomplete late Monday. A memorial service will be held later.

READ ABOUT MORE NEWS HERE.

RELATED:

Marc Basnight dies at 73: ‘He believed in North Carolina and its people’

News

Lane closures for inspection of Marc Basnight Bridge to begin Monday

News

Dare commissioners support amending Hatteras Inlet’s federal authorization

Lifestyles

Outer Banks Community Foundation now accepting applications for Dorian long-term recovery grants

News

Virtual update on Rodanthe bridge set

News

NC gun provisions in vetoed 2020 bill clear committees

News

Summer school to counter COVID online learning approved by House

News

North Carolina man shot after forcibly entering deputy’s home

News

Cooper lifts curfew, eases gathering and occupancy limits

News

In Nags Head: Kitty Hawk Watersports receives approval for new dock; town subsidizes recycling subscription program

Currituck

Currituck commissioners honor Judge Cole upon retirement from Superior Court

News

Nags Head Planning Board continues to refine lighting regulations, changes to UDO regarding nonconforming hotels

Crime

Federal prosecutors: North Carolina woman went shopping with $150K COVID relief loan

News

NC woman wins $139,140 Cash 5 jackpot with Online Play ticket

Business

Lowe’s fourth quarter results surge as people plow money into homes

Crime

North Carolina woman indicted in husband’s shooting death

News

Kill Devil Hills woman scores half of $536,264 Cash 5 jackpot

News

Tourism Board to help with Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station repairs

Crime

Sheriff: Twelve malnourished dogs rescued from North Carolina home

News

Cooper orders flags lowered to half-staff in remembrance of lives lost to COVID-19

News

Insurance commissioner urges caution when using portable heaters

Crime

Suspect dead, deputy wounded in gunfire during North Carolina traffic stop

News

North Carolina zoo announces death of Pigeon the red wolf

News

North Carolina weekly gas price update: Prices up again

News

Kill Devil Hills Planning Board approves parking request for hotels and motels