Two Republican state senators are challenging their party's Senate leader for his job in a vote next weekend.
Sen. Bob Rucho, of Charlotte, and Sen. Pete Brunstetter, of Winston-Salem, both plan to run against Sen. Phil Berger, of Eden, the current Senate Republican leader. Berger is seeking a third term in the post.
The GOP caucus is scheduled to meet and vote on their leadership team on Sunday, Dec. 7 in Greensboro.
The challenge to Berger comes despite Republicans' gain of one senate seat in this year's election, pushing back against a national Democratic tide that pummeled Republicans elsewhere and in other N.C. races. Republicans will hold 20 seats in the N.C. Senate next year to Democrats' 30 seats.
"We're the only Republican legislative caucus in the nation that's in the minority in a state Obama carried and still picked up seats," Berger said. He and Sen. Tom Apodaca, of Hendersonville and the Deputy Republican leader, have headed the caucus since 2004.
Rucho, who once roomed with Berger in Raleigh, is retiring from his dental practice next month. He said he will have more time to devote to a leadership position, particularly raising the money that Republicans lacked in this year's campaigns.
"We just can't afford to continue to lose by 3 to 1 in fundraising," Rucho said.
Brunstetter said it's natural for the caucus to talk about new leadership every two years and especially after the GOP has taken a beating nationally.
"The question is not what happened in 2008," Brunstetter said, "but what needs to happen in 2010."