Rep. Corbin elected Deputy Whip, ‘Rising Star’ in caucus

Rep. Kevin Corbin (top row, third from left) was elected Deputy Majority Whip of the Republican caucus in the North Carolina House Jan. 9, joining a group of 12 representatives in the ranks of the House leadership in just his sophomore term. Photo submitted

Rep. Corbin elected Deputy Whip, ‘Rising Star’ in caucus

By Abraham Mahshie

Rep. Kevin Corbin’s seat in the North Carolina House chamber will change this year from middle seat number 98 to aisle seat number 90. There, he said, “I can literally reach across and touch the Democrats.”

The seating change comes with a new job, as Corbin was nominated by Republican party leaders and elected Deputy Majority Whip by the caucus on Jan. 9. The sophomore representative now joins the ranks of an elite group of 12 in the majority party’s inner circle.

“He’s a rising star,” said majority whip Jon Hardister (R-Guilford), who has visited Macon County and spent time with Rep. Corbin’s family. “Kevin’s name very quickly came to mind as a person who works very well in our caucus and treats other people with respect.”

Those other people include Democrats, said Rep. Hardister. 

Sitting directly across the aisle from Rep. Corbin will be Democrat Raymond Smith (D-Wayne/Sampson), and behind him, the minority freshman leader, Derwin Montgomery (D-Forsyth). 

“Republicans are still in the majority, but we no longer have a super majority,” said the majority whip. “We’re going to have to reach across the aisle at certain times, and I think Kevin is the right person to do that.”

Doing the heavy lifting

Corbin hit the ground running his freshman term with House Bill 13, which gave spending flexibility to school superintendents. There, he said, he demonstrated his willingness to “do some of the heavy lifting” for Speaker Tim Moore.

“There’s times you’re trying to talk people into stuff, and times you’re trying to talk them out of it, for something that you believe the caucus wants to do,” said Corbin. “I got involved in the leadership and helped them, as well as them helping me.”

Rep. Corbin frequently invited Speaker Moore to his district, securing $68,000 for law enforcement to purchase body cameras and saving $1.1 million in education funding for Macon County.

The new deputy majority whip recognizes that he was tapped in part because he is closer to his Democratic colleagues than others.

“Quite frankly, I have a pretty good relationship across the aisle with Democrats,” he said. “We need to work closer with the Democrats and come up with legislation we can all support.”

Hardister said votes are counted – and attendance is secured – whenever there is an important issue.

“In a sense it’s kind of a bean counter,” said Rep. Corbin, who will help parlay relationships into votes for the party, identifying the legislative changes needed to win outliers and working with a bill’s sponsors to make amendments, when necessary.

“Very often if there is a member who has a problem with a bill, usually there are a few other members who have that same problem,” said Hardister. “It’s not so much applying pressure, it’s building consensus.”

Hardister described Corbin as “versatile” given his background as a county commissioner and on the school board, are assets to helping the leadership write new legislation.

“Anything related to local government and education is something that would certainly be in his wheelhouse,” he said, adding broadband Internet to the range of issues where Rep. Corbin’s experience can benefit Western North Carolina.