Under the Dome

Dan Blue

Office District Status
N.C. Senator N.C. Senate 14 Incumbent
Party In Office Since Term Ends
Democrat 1980 2010
Level of Government  
N.C. Senate  
Date of Birth Birthplace Now Lives In
April 18, 1949 Robeson County, NC Raleigh, NC


Dan Blue is back out of retirement. First elected to the state House of Representatives in 1981, Blue served two decades. In 1991, he became Speaker of the House, a position he lost in 1995 when the Democratic Party lost control of the House. He was the first African-American to hold the post. When Democrats came back into power in 1999, Blue fell one vote short of the speaker spot, losing to Jim Black. In 2002, he ran in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, losing to Erskine Bowles. He was reappointed to the state House in 2006 to fill a seat left vacant by the death of Rep. Bernard Allen and appointed to the Senate in 2009.


He was the first black speaker of a state House of Representatives in the South.


AFL-CIO of N.C., Conservation Council of N.C., N.C. Association of Educators, Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association, Sierra Club of N.C., State Employees Association of N.C., Planned Parenthood; NC NOW


Marital Status
Edna Earle Smith
Two sons and daughters-in-law, Dan III and Tracey, Dhamian and Jenna; daughter, Kanika Capel and son-in-law Jeff; granddaughter, Cameron Capel

Dan Blue is a state senator from Wake County and a former speaker of the House.

Early Life and Education 

Daniel Terry Blue Jr. was born April 18, 1949, in Robeson County to Allene and Dan Blue Sr. His father was a tobacco tenant farmer; his mother a housewife. 

He graduated from Oak Ridge High School in 1966.

He then attended N.C. Central University, where he earned a bachelor of science in mathematics in 1970.

He later attended Duke University's law school, graduating in 1973.

Professional Career 

After finishing law school, Blue worked in the law offices of former governor Terry Sanford from 1973 to 1976.

In 1976, he started his own law firm, Thigpen, Blue, Stephens and Fellers, where he still works.

He handles general and commercial litigation, bond counseling and real estate transactions.

Political Career 

Blue was elected to the N.C. House in 1980 when he was just 31.

He played a major role in modernizing the criminal code and juvenile justice laws, handled bills related to worker safety and chaired an appropriations committee on human resources.  

In 1990, he became the first black state House speaker in the South.

In that role, he put financial safeguards in the state budget, performed a performance audit on state spending and revamped the state's parole and corrections process. 

He lost the position in 1995 when Republicans regained control of the House.

In 1999, with Democrats back in control, Blue was nominated for speaker by Republicans, with the aid of a coaliton black Democrats who felt ignored by the party.

Conservative Democrats nominated Jim Black, who had spent money from his own campaign to help get other Democrats elected. Blue lost the speaker race by one vote. 

In 2002, Blue left the General Assembly to run for the U.S. Senate seat of Jesse Helms, but second in the primary to Erskine Bowles out of six candidates. Blue was slow to endorse Bowles, but eventually campaigned for him. Bowles lost the race to Elizabeth Dole.

In 2006, Wake Democrats selected Blue to fill the seat of Rep. Bernard Allen, a Raleigh Democrat who had died earlier in the year from complications due to a stroke.

After Black resigned due to corruption charges in 2007, Blue was on the short list of Democrats likely to take the speaker spot, though his past alliance with Republicans hurt his chances and Joe Hackney was chosen instead.

During the 2007 session, he sponsored a bill on residential mortgage fraud.

In 2009, he was appointed to the state Senate. 

Research and reporting by Brooke Cain and Ryan Teague Beckwith.


Blue, Stephens & Fellers

Community Involvement:
past president, N.C. Conference of State Legislators; past member, Democratic National Committee; vice-chair, Duke University Board of Trustees; member, Duke Health Systems Board of Directors; member, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity; Prince Hall Masons; corporate member, Research Triangle Institute; elder, Davie Street Presbyterian Church.

Contact Info





B.S. in mathematics
North Carolina Central University
Graduated: 1970
Duke University School of Law
Graduated: 1973


Not specified.


Name one way you would change government.

The biggest challenge we face is making sure we get financially stable. We’ve got to be more aggressive in making sure we don’t have structural deficit in the government. I would do time limits on legislative sessions. I would make government totally transparent. It belongs to the people,  and we ought to be making it electronically available and televising it.

What is the most pressing problem affecting the function of district court?


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