Another powerful member of the North Carolina Senate will retire next year. Republican Tom Apodaca of Henderson County will not seek an eighth term in the General Assembly.
The 57-year-old is the second ranking member of the state Senate and an unmistakable presence at the Capitol. His sarcastic, blunt, bullish style has made him many friends and plenty of adversaries since first winning election in 2002.
His sarcastic delivery and admonishment of Democrats in the minority have come to be expected during floor sessions. Apodaca has been Senator Phil Berger's right-hand man and has control over what legislation moves forward.
"I can't overstate how instrumental he has been to the Senate Republican Caucus's electoral and legislative success," Berger (R-Rockingham) said in a statement. "Tom is not only one of my closest friends in the legislature, he's one of my closest friends - period. Tom was a steadying influence when we made big decisions, and someone the caucus could always count on to solve big problems."
After the Governor, House Speaker and Senate Pro Tem, Apodaca's position is perhaps the most powerful of any state lawmaker. Apodaca is a bail bondsman and entrepreneur who helped pass tax reform, and bring Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to the North Carolina mountains. He also sought to regulate coal ash dumps and bring new programs to his alma mater Western Carolina.
Apodaca joins long-time Senate Republican colleague Bob Rucho in announcing his retirement, following the short legislative session next year. As of Monday afternoon, 19 of the General Assembly's 170 members had announced they would not seek re-election in 2016.