Chatham’s Rep. Robert Reives II elected as party leader

BY D. LARS DOLDER, News + Record Staff
Posted 12/5/20

In its first major decision following the Nov. 3 elections, North Carolina’s Democratic caucus has chosen Robert Reives II, Chatham County’s representative in the N.C. House, to serve as …

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Chatham’s Rep. Robert Reives II elected as party leader

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Posted

In its first major decision following the Nov. 3 elections, North Carolina’s Democratic caucus has chosen Robert Reives II, Chatham County’s representative in the N.C. House, to serve as the party’s leader for the next two years.

Reives was elected unanimously by his peers — some meeting in-person in Raleigh with others participating remotely online — in their meeting Thursday.

“That made me feel great, it really meant a lot,” Reives told the News + Record of the unanimous decision. “It was a pretty fast turnaround and it was nice to know that they all trust me enough to support me in that manner.”

As the minority party leader, Reives will have a direct hand in most of what the 51 Democrat legislators contribute to the House of Representatives over the next term.

“It’s a little bit of everything,” Reives said of the position’s responsibilities. “Basically, I’ll be overseeing all functions of all the parts of the House caucus … working with members on campaigns, working with members on bill filing, coordinating pretty much anything that we do.”

While not commanding as much liberty as his Republican counterpart to enact the legislative agenda of his party, Reives still holds out an ambitious list of goals for the next two years.

“Broadband still stays at the forefront for me,” he said, “especially for Chatham County, and of course for North Carolina. Secondly, we’ll try to do something to really help out small business relief, and also help people financially to get through this because it’s really been a tough time and I know people need some help. So, I really want to be out front doing something about that.”

He is also determined to continue the policy changes N.C. Democrats have promoted for many years.

“The educational gap that we had in this state well before the pandemic has broadened exponentially,” Reives said, “and I’d like to see us moving toward trying to close that gap again … And I want to see what we can do about propping up rural hospitals. I think of all hospitals, they’ve been hardest hit during this time; we’ve got to think of ways to save them.”

Reives will officially assume his new role on January 27. Still, there is much work to be done in the interim.

“One thing I’ve got to do, is I’m hoping to have an expanded leadership team,” he said, “… so we’ve got to make caucus staffing decisions. There’s a lot to get done before we officially open up.”

House Democrats are set to reconvene during the week of Jan. 2. By then, Reives will need to have selected several staff members, including the party’s next deputy leader, a position Reives held for the last four of his six years in the House under current party leader Rep. Darren Jackson. 

Jackson, whose district covers part of Wake County, decided not to seek reelection as the House’s leading Democrat, citing in part the party’s disappointing results in the Nov. 3 election. 

“The past four years Robert Reives and I have worked as a team,” Jackson said. “… Now that Robert is the House Democratic leader, I am confident he will do a great job in bringing people together to reach common ground with the Republicans, when that is possible, and to stop dangerous right-wing ideas before they become law. Robert is highly respected by Republicans and Democrats alike and he understands the needs of rural areas.”

Reporter D. Lars Dolder can be reached at dldolder@chathamnr.com and on Twitter @dldolder.

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