Daniel Blue grew up in his parents' four-room farmhouse in Robeson County, North Carolina, where he learned the values of hard work, faith and education. He graduated from North Carolina Central University and the Duke University School of Law. Blue was elected to the North Carolina House in 1980, and became speaker in 1991. In 2002, he ran for the U.S. Senate but was defeated. He returned to the House in 2006 and was selected to fill a Senate vacancy in 2009. Blue served as NCSL president in 1998-99 and has returned for a second term.
What are your priorities tor NCSL? To ensure we solicit and encourage the participation of legislative leaders from all 99 chambers and make sure the states have a sufficient role in the national discussion as federal legislation and policies are being deliberated.
How has the legislative environment changed since you were last president of NCSL? It's much more combative, and folks pick their sides. The environment has turned more Washington-like, but I think state legislatures are moving away from that. Legislatures and legislative leaders appreciate the nonpartisan role that NCSL plays because of very good leadership over the last 15 or 20 years.
What does it take to be an effective leader? First, have some idea of what you want to accomplish, but more important, understand what your members want to accomplish. They have to know that you're working constantly for their best interests.
How will scaling back the governor's powers affect the state? The restrictions imposed on our incoming governor will undoubtedly make his job more difficult, and it hampers all three branches of government's ability to operate effectively. Recent legislation not only removes some of the checks and balances within our state government, it also alters the makeup of our state boards--from the Board of Elections to the UNC Board of Governors. All of this serves to prevent a new administration from succeeding. We need to be working on behalf of the people of this state, not working against each other.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? I grew up in the age of Sputnik, so I had great interest in a science career, whether it was astrophysics or even traveling to outer space. 1 got a degree in mathematics in college, but my interests expanded when I began debating issues with my fellow students. That's how I ended up gravitating toward the law.
What inspired you to run for office? Several things. I was active in high...