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This tribute was penned by Gene Upchurch, a veteran executive and lobbyist for CP&L and Progress Energy:
“For those of us who have toiled in the Raleigh political gig the last 30 years, Martin Nesbitt has always been there. Love him or hate him, agree or disagree, he was there, usually bigger than life. Impossible to miss. Impossible to misinterpret.
“He was a large man with a large, imposing personality. He was equal parts populism, pragmatism and grit. When he made up his mind, it was made up and could not be changed. You always knew where you stood with him whether you liked it or not. But at least you knew.
“People thought he loved politics, but his true love was the mountains and the simple, everyday people who lived there.
“I worked with him for several years on the Clean Smokestacks Act in the early 2000s. After the bill passed, it was many years before I understood his motivation wasn’t to beat up the electric utilities or kowtow to the environmentalists. Instead, he wanted to help mountain folks who thought their trees were dying from pollution drifting in from other states. He believed North Carolina couldn’t badger other states to clean their emissions if we weren’t doing something to clean ours. So, he patiently brokered a solution that took about four years but got the job done. In the end, his people were better off.
“He spent thousands of exhausting hours traveling to and from Raleigh, a testament to his commitment to take the mountain voices to the legislature. I remember so vividly the emotion in his voice and in the voice of his carpool buddy Senator Bob Swain when they talked about driving home from Raleigh, rounding a curve on I-40 and catching the first glimpse of their beloved mountains in the smoky distance.
“Nesbitt made his last trip to those mountains Wednesday, and it’s really difficult to imagine Raleigh without him.”


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3 comments on “Mountain Man Martin Nesbitt

  1. Anonymous says:

    A great man and great advocate for the working poor in our state. I had the opportunity to hear him speak at a function many years ago when I was more personally involved in politics and was totally overwhelmed by him. Big guy, for sure, with a big voice and big presence. North Carolina politics will miss this guy regardless what side of the aisle he sat on. Here is a link by John Frank at the NewsObserver that I thought hit the nail and did like the article you linked here as well:

    I respect your post here about Nesbitt., our “sister blog site” took the dark road with this using Nesbitt’s death as a means to trash republicans with a post by their owner saying he couldn’t think of a republican that, if he/she died, would get the kind of outpouring as Nesbitt did. This, coming from someone that continues to trash republicans for being full of hate and being mean spirited. Lovely. Thank you Gary for how you handle these kinds of things and knowing that it isn’t the time or situation to further some political agenda.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t it strange when we run into someone who wants something like this for the right reason. Someone who doesn’t just do things our of hate for capitalism, or because he hates big business, is really rare on this side of the political isle. The Democrats are so full now of capitalism haters that their motives arent usually this pure. Refreshing.

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