West News Wire: Jim Broyhill, a veteran Republican congressman from North Carolina who briefly filled a seat in the U.S. Senate before losing a campaign to keep the position, passed away early on Saturday, according to his family. He was 95 years old.
According to his son Ed, Broyhill passed away at Arbor Acres Retirement Community in Winston-Salem. He was a scion of the Broyhill Furniture Company, which was based in the foothills of North Carolina and provided the community with employment and reputation. His son stated on Saturday that he had endured years of congestive heart failure that had gotten worse recently.
The moderate Republican held office in the House for more than 23 years. He was seen as a dependable conservative who contributed to North Carolina becoming a competitive two-party state, especially during the 1980s GOP gains on the national level.
In a video interview in honor of receiving a state award in 2015, Broyhill recalled the dearth of Republicans on the first state ballot he filled out in 1948.
“I was determined that I’m going to do what I could to see if we could not develop a two-party system in our state,” Broyhill said. “And I think I had a great deal to accomplish that, but with the help and the leadership of many other people.”
GOP Gov. Jim Martin appointed Broyhill to replace Republican Sen. John East when East died by suicide in June 1986.
Broyhill had already won the Senate GOP primary a month earlier against David Funderburk, who had the support of Sen. Jesse Helms’ national organization that backed hardline Republicans. East wasn’t seeking reelection due to medical issues.
The Senate appointment was viewed as an asset to help Broyhill in his fall general election against former Gov. Terry Sanford, a Democrat and outgoing Duke University president. Sanford narrowly defeated Broyhill in two elections that November one to serve out the rest of 1986 and another for the next six years.
Expected initially to be a low-key affair, the campaign took on the intensity of a modern, more divisive campaign. Reagan came to Charlotte to campaign for Broyhill. In a recent interview, Martin said he’s unsure whether appointing Broyhill to the Senate ultimately aided his campaign.
“He wasn’t able to spend as much time campaigning because he was intensely dependable on fulfilling his Senate duties,” Martin said.
Broyhill’s Capitol Hill career began with a surprising U.S. House victory in 1962.
When Democrats attempted to redraw the district of the lone Republican in the House delegation after the 1960 census in hopes of defeating him, the adjoining district became more Republican, according to a biography of Martin. That opened the door for Broyhill, who had worked at the family business for close to two decades, to upset Democratic incumbent Hugh Quincy Alexander.
While he never served in a Republican-controlled chamber until his Senate appointment, Broyhill flexed his political muscles for Republican presidential administrations in the House and built support for their agendas with Democrats.
In the interview highlighting his 2015 award, Broyhill recalled legislation he helped pass to create the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Broyhill’s family and others cited his efforts to create energy policies, and deregulate the telecommunications, pharmaceutical and trucking industries.
Frank Drendel, founder of coaxial cable producer CommScope based in Hickory, said on Saturday that Broyhill’s work to get a law passed in 1978 so that cable companies could connect their cables to other utility poles helped the cable industry soar.