Robert Rucho is a Charlotte-area dentist and former Republican member of the North Carolina State Senate elected to the BOG in 2017. He represented District 39 from 2008 to 2016 and did not seek reelection 2016. He also served in the Senate from 1997 to 2004. He sought election in 2018 to Senate District 34, but lost in the Republican primary. Throughout his tenure as a legislator, Rucho prioritized shifting the tax burden from corporations and the rich onto working families. In his capacity as co-chair of the Finance Committee, Rucho engaged in a contentious debate over tax policy and resigned his finance committee co-chairmanship saying that “top leaders were caving to special interests.” In a letter explaining his resignation, Rucho told Berger that he had a “fundamental disagreement” on the most effective model of “tax reform” because he sought an even more dramatic shift of taxes onto working families.
Rucho once said on twitter that Obamacare has “done more harm to the U.S. than the Soviets, the Nazis and the terrorists combined.”
Rucho was deemed one of North Carolina’s “most influential senators.” Before stepping down in 2016, Rucho co-chaired the Senate Finance Committee and led the Redistricting Committee. Through those positions, Rucho became one of the primary architects of the state tax overhaul and multiple rounds of legislative and congressional redistricting. Rucho gained his notoriety as a co-defendant in multiple racial and partisan gerrymandering cases, one of which, Rucho v. Common Cause, went all the way to the Supreme Court.
Rucho’s involvement with redistricting began in 2008 when he filed a lawsuit with former State Board of Elections chairman Bob Hunter and Rep. Frank Mitchell, both Republicans, seeking to delay a primary so that the legislature could redraw North Carolina’s legislative districts. The NAACP said that the suit violated the Voting Rights Act by concentrating Black voters into fewer districts. In 2011 when Republicans gained control of both chambers of the state legislature, Rucho and Rep. David Lewis became the “sole sources of instruction” for redistricting based on the 2010 census. A lawsuit later filed against Rucho over the 2011 maps accused Rucho and Lewis of racial gerrymandering in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The suit said Rucho’s maps grouped or “packed” Black voters into certain districts to dilute their political power. Additonally, Rucho was named in a separate lawsuit alleging unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering that also included Sen. Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore, and Lewis as defendants. A panel of federal judges struck down all 13 of North Carolina’s congressional districts as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.
In 2017, after a court fight that lasted over six years, the Supreme Court found North Carolina’s racial gerrymandering unconstitutional and that the legislature had “diluted black voting strength in the state.” The court based its ruling specifically on public statements from redistricting chairs Rucho and Lewis, who admitted that District 12 was made into a “majority-minority district.” However, the Supreme Court ruled in Rucho v. Common Cause that federal courts did not have the authority to stop legislators from drawing maps to obtain a partisan advantage.
In 2018 Rucho entered a “combative” Republican primary and faced a residency challenge after diving into the SD34 race the day after renting an apartment in Mooresville, NC. At a Republican candidate forum Rucho told a woman candidate, “this isn’t a beauty contest.”