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I didn’t know John Pope, the uber-wealthy retail king who died this week. And I don’t know much about the business empire he built at Variety Wholesalers.

But I know about his political empire.

I don’t like it, but I damn sure respect it.

Pope was the big money behind the John Locke Foundation and its various political planets, like the Civitas Institute.

I take it his son, Art, did much of the thinking and creating. But the money and much of the spirit and drive seem to have come from John Pope.

The highest compliment I can pay the Popes is that – for at least 15 years – Democrats and progressives have been saying: “We need something like the John Locke Foundation.”

But no Democrat has stepped up with the money – or the drive – to do it.

Maybe one will – one day.

But it seems that – from the Congressional Club to the Pope Empire – the conservatives have been better at building that kind of political organization.

Of course, North Carolina still has a Democratic (not Democrat) Governor and a Democratic legislature.

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