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    News & Observer politics podcast, Sen. Sawrey episode

    Each week, join Dawn Vaughan for The News & Observer and NC Insider’s Under the Dome podcast, an in-depth analysis of topics in state government and politics for North Carolina.

    Each week, join Dawn Vaughan for The News & Observer and NC Insider’s Under the Dome podcast, an in-depth analysis of topics in state government and politics for North Carolina.

    Start your week in #ncpol #ncga with our latest Under the Dome politics podcast. Dawn Vaughan here, your News & Observer Capitol bureau chief and podcast host.

    In the latest episode, for the week of Oct. 23, 2023, I sat down with state Sen. Benton Sawrey, a Johnston County Republican.

    Sawrey first became involved with politics as an intern in 2005 for the North Carolina Republican Party, when he was a student at N.C. State University. He went on to intern for now Senate leader Phil Berger, back when Berger was in the minority party.

    I asked him what Berger was like back then. “I would say he’s unchanged. He’s always been a steady leader. He’s very patient. He’s very thoughtful. You know, I think I would probably say he’s the same guy and 2023 as he was in 2005 at least.”

    N.C. Sen. Benton Sawrey, left, a Johnston County Republican, talks with News & Observer Capitol Bureau Chief Dawn Vaughan, right, during a recording of the Under the Dome politics podcast in his office at the Legislative Building in Raleigh.
    N.C. Sen. Benton Sawrey, left, a Johnston County Republican, talks with News & Observer Capitol Bureau Chief Dawn Vaughan, right, during a recording of the Under the Dome politics podcast in his office at the Legislative Building in Raleigh. Laura Brache lbrache@newsobserver.com

    Being in the supermajority party doesn’t mean every bill you run makes it to the floor, or even past the Senate Rules Committee. So we talk about legislation that Sawrey shepherded that was signed by Gov. Roy Cooper, and a bill that never made it out of Rules.

    Sawrey said for a freshman in the supermajority, if you have a policy idea, “it’s easier to get it from beginning to end. I’ve seen some other freshmen on the other side of the aisle — they’ve had some good policy ideas, but it just hasn’t been able to move just because of the position where they are, and they haven’t been able to build the coalition they probably wanted to.”

    We also talk about Sawrey’s first, unsuccessful run for state Senate, how he won in 2022 and why he’s not impacted by redistricting this year.

    Looking ahead to the 2024 elections, we also talk about who he sees getting Republican votes in the gubernatorial and presidential primaries.

    JoCo and Headliner of the Week

    After the break, we talk more about Johnston County and what Sawrey, who’s from there, thinks about the rise of the word “JoCo” to describe his home.

    Plus, because this is his first time on the podcast, I of course had to ask him what he likes in from the Legislative Cafeteria and snack bar. And, if you remember our episode with Sen. Todd Johnson, Sawrey has some more details on his Union County colleague’s ketchup preference.

    Stay tuned to the end for our picks for Headliner of the Week. Spoiler: they both have to do with the drama surrounding U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry and national Republicans.

    Listen to our latest episode below and catch up on previous episodes. You can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Audible, iHeart, Pandora, Amazon Music and Stitcher.

    Now you can also watch video of our Under the Dome podcast on our N&O YouTube page.

    Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

    Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan is the Capitol Bureau Chief for The News & Observer, leading coverage of the legislative and executive branches in North Carolina with a focus on the governor, General Assembly leadership and state budget. She has received the McClatchy President’s Award, N.C. Open Government Coalition Sunshine Award and several North Carolina Press Association awards, including for politics and investigative reporting.

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