Monday, January 26, 2009

A lobbyist who'll be missed

The word lobbyist has a lot of negative connotations these days. They're agents for special interests, conduits of campaign cash and all-around bogeymen for government reformers.

Roger Bone represented groups such as tobacco, car dealers and pharmaceuticals. But for a quarter-century, his main special interest was the legislature itself and the people who worked there, be they legislators, reporters or staffers.

Roger died Sunday of cancer at 69.

I met Roger in 1985 when I started covering the legislature. A former lawmaker himself, he was working for then Speaker Liston Ramsey. He opened his own lobbying business a couple years later. He was rated the state's top lobbyist in the most recent rankings by the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.

But Roger never had an inflated sense of self-importance. A beefy guy, he always had a smile and stories that made other people smile. He got to the top by being a straight-shooter.

The last time I talked to him was a year or so ago, after his diagnosis and after a chemo treatment. There was no self-pity, just the old Roger. The legislature won't be the same without him.

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