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Holshouser recovering from pneumonia

Former Gov. Jim Holshouser is home recovering from a bout with pneumonia.

“He's fine,'' said George Little, his long-time friend.

Holshouser, 78, North Carolina's first 20th century Republican governor(1973-77) missed the inauguration of the state's first 21st century GOP Gov. Pat McCrory on Saturday because of his illness.

He spent one night in the hospital out of precaution but was released Friday, Little said. But the Southern Pines attorney was advised not to attend the inauguration while he recovered from his illness.

Holshouser (second from left in photo) was honored in a reception on December 13th at the University of North Carolina School of Government, where a professorship was named in his honor. Supporters raised more than $333,000 for the endowed chair to along with $167,000 of state matching funds.

The event attracted former Governors Jim Martin and Jim Hunt as well as many long time friends and supporters of Holshouser.

Little: No thanks on GOP chair

George Little says he's not interested in state GOP chair.

The former Republican gubernatorial candidate's name had been thrown around by some insiders as a possible last-minute candidate.

"If it had been 10 years ago, I might have done it," he said.

He said he has committed to former Raleigh mayor Tom Fetzer's campaign.

Quick Hits

* State Republicans may nominate a candidate from the floor for party chair: Former gubernatorial candidate George Little or state Sen. Andrew Brock.

* John Hagler grouses about the current state of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in an entertaining interview on WFAE in Charlotte. 

* The Henderson Daily Dispatch says the Order is a great honor when it's made to a "local pillar, a community stalwart" and not for a retirement.

* Jack Betts files another dispatch in the long-running battle over an Alcoa hydroelectric dam on the Yadkin River in Stanly County.

What does the Environment Secretary do?

Oversees programs regulating water and air quality and protecting wildlife, wilderness and coastal areas.

Oversees programs regulating water and air quality and protecting wildlife, wilderness and coastal areas.

As head of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the governor-appointed secretary supervises state programs protecting the environment, managing state parks and forests and educating the public on natural resources.

It is one of 10 Cabinet-level positions appointed by the governor to head state agencies.

It is one of the major agencies, with 3,505 employees and a $329.8 million budget in 2007-08. The secretary's salary was $120,363 in the 2008-09 budget.

Howard Lee, who served as secretary from 1977 to 1981, was the first black head of the department and first black Cabinet appointee in North Carolina. The longest-serving secretary since 1971 has been Bill Ross, who led the department from 2001 through the end of Gov. Mike Easley's administration in 2008.

Two Republicans who served in the position, George Little and Bill Cobey, ran unsuccessfully for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2004.

The department has gone through substantial changes over the years.

In 1823, the N.C. Geological Survey was formed. In 1905, it was expanded and renamed the N.C. Geological and Economic Survey, the forerunner to the modern department.

A restructuring of Cabinet agencies in 1971 put most of the environmental functions under the N.C. Department of Natural and Economic Resources. In 1977, it was retitled the Department of Natural Resources and Community Development.

In 1989, the legislature combined parts of the N.C. Department of Natural Resources and Community Development and the N.C. Department of Human Resources into the N.C. Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources.

In 1997, health services were transferred back to the reorganized Department of Health and Human Services and the department was given its current name.

The department is outlined in general statutes under Article 7 of G.S. 143B.

Will Holshouser, Martin endorsements help?

Will the endorsements of two former governors help Pat McCrory?

History suggests some reason for doubt. Both former Republican governors Jim Holshouser and Jim Martin endorsed George Little in the 2004 Republican primary, and Holshouser served as co-chairman of his committee.

Little was a longtime Republican fundraiser and Moore County insurance broker who was the most moderate candidate in the field. He supported the lottery and was widely considered one of the few Republicans who could win Democratic votes in the general election.

He came in last, after state Sen. Fern Shubert, Davie County Commissioner Dan Barrett, former state GOP chairman Bill Cobey, former Charlotte mayor Richard Vinroot and and the eventual nominee, state Sen. Patrick Ballantine, who lost the general election.

"Endorsements rarely matter," Rob Christensen wrote afterward. "Candidates work very hard to get the blessings of well-known political figures. But the primary results suggest there are better ways to spend their time."

McCrory stressed that he did not seek out their support and would not rely on endorsements.

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