CHARLOTTE—After 16 years in office, State Senator Bob Rucho is retiring.
The Republican Co-ChairPERSON of the Senate Finance Committee announced Thursday he will not seek re-election next year. The retired Matthews dentist was influential in several big items, including tax reform and the budget.
Senator Bob Rucho said he wanted to get rid of the deficit, pass tax reform, and work on the state budget when he left his Matthews home for Raleigh in 1996. Sixteen years later, the retired dentist says he's accomplished everything on his list.
"When I went to Raleigh I was trying to get certain things accomplished I promised, as we all do in the political world," said Senator Rucho. "I don't know if there was much left to do."
As Co-Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Rucho used his influence to help with a new economic development plan. He said there were 'major compromises' but he's still confident it will help recruit new jobs and businesses to the state, as well as tax relief to existing ones.
"It's an ongoing process creating jobs, economic growth,” said Rucho. “Our goal was to make North Carolina a state where opportunity and prosperity is there for all. And it's working."
Rucho was also part of redistricting in North Carolina, a fight that went all the way to the state Supreme Court.
He was also part of a controversial piece of legislation which turned over power of the day to day operations at the Charlotte Airport, to a regional commission. Rucho said he still worries about what happened with the airport battle and how it ended, but feels there's now more awareness about what the airport and the city are doing with tax payer dollars.
Rucho joked about how he won’t miss the weekly drive to Raleigh, or the nightly trip back to catch his children’s sporting events. But the tenacious senator says he will miss the debates, the sparing with law makers who shared different philosophies. And he’s looking forward to more time with his family and traveling with his wife Teresa.
Time Warner Cable News spoke with UNC Charlotte Politcal Science Professor Eric Heberlig about Senator Rucho’s unexpected departure. He says the Republican primary for the seat could be a heated battle, and those thinking of running have a short window of time to decide. Filing for the primary is December 1st through the 21st.