Cass Ballenger

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Cass Ballenger
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 10th district
In office
November 4, 1986 – January 3, 2005
Preceded by Jim Broyhill
Succeeded by Patrick T. McHenry
Personal details
Born (1926-12-06) December 6, 1926 (age 88)
Hickory, North Carolina
Political party Republican

Thomas Cass Ballenger (born December 6, 1926) is an American politician. A Republican, he represented North Carolina's 10th Congressional district, centered in North Carolina's foothills, in the United States House of Representatives from 1986 to 2005.


Ballenger was born in Hickory, North Carolina. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and later earned his B.A. from Amherst College. He served in the United States Naval Air Corps during World War II.

A plastics executive in his hometown of Hickory, Ballenger had previously served in the North Carolina State House of Representatives from 1974 until 1976, and the North Carolina State Senate from 1976 until 1986. In the November 1986 elections, Ballenger was simultaneously elected to serve the remainder of 23-year incumbent Jim Broyhill's term (Broyhill had been appointed to the Senate) and to his own first term. He was reelected nine more times, all by landslide margins in what, according to some, has become the most Republican district in North Carolina. Not surprisingly, his voting record was very conservative.

As a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Ballenger chaired the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. As chairman, Ballenger drafted legislation that was eventually enacted that reformed the Occupational Health and Safety Administration [OSHA], making OSHA less adversarial toward American businesses. Like the back country constituents he served, Ballenger resisted the notion of a large federal government and sought to minimize government regulation.

From 1982 to 2002, Ballenger displayed a black lawn jockey in front of his Hickory home. Some African Americans in Hickory criticized Ballenger for the lawn jockey, which they understood to be a symbol of racism. In 1994, a Democratic opponent featured the lawn jockey on a campaign brochure.

Ballenger, along with his wife, established the Ballenger Foundation in 1990 to raise funds for schools and hospitals in Central and South America. He has been active in that region for over thirty five years, receiving humanitarian awards from various organizations, including the Fabretto Children's Foundation, for his work.

In 2004, alongside several other Republican members of Congress, including Mark Souder and Katherine Harris, Ballenger submitted an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court case Gonzales v. Raich, defending the federal government's power to raid, arrest, prosecute and imprison patients who use medical marijuana even in states that have declared such use legally permitted.[1]

When asked about Trent Lott's controversial comments on December 5, 2002 about Strom Thurmond's, Ballenger made disparaging comments about outgoing Rep. Cynthia McKinney.[2][3]

If I had to listen to her, I probably would have developed a little bit of a segregationist feeling. But I think everybody can look at my life and what I've done and say that's not true. I mean, she was such a bitch.

—Cass Ballenger, The Charlotte Observer, December 20, 2002[4]

He later apologized, denying that the statement reflected any racist feelings. Rather, he said that he was trying to make a pont that "almost anybody can develop an animosity to individuals," and that he singled out McKinney because he felt she was "less than patriotic."[4] Later, one of his aides was seen painting over the black lawn jockey in Ballenger's yard.[5]

Ballenger retired in 2004 and was succeeded by one-term Republican state representative Patrick T. McHenry. In 2008 presidential election, he endorsed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination[6] and endorsed incumbent Patrick T. McHenry in the NC Primaries.[7]


He is the great-great-grandson of nineteenth-century politician Lewis Cass, and was probably named after him. Cass was a Territorial Governor of Michigan, U.S. Senator from Michigan, U.S. Secretary of War, U.S. Secretary of State and was the Democratic Party's nominee for President of the United States in 1848.


  1. ^ Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of the Petitioners from Mark E. Souder; U.S. Representative, Cass Ballenger; U.S. Representative, Dan Burton; U.S. Representative, Katherine Harris; U.S. Representative, Ernest J. Istook, Jr.; U.S. Representative, Jack Kingston; U.S. Representative, and U.S. Representative, Doug Ose
  2. ^ Gregory, Leland (2007-08-01). Idiots in Charge: Lies, Trick, Misdeeds, and Other Political Untruthiness. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-7407-6970-2. 
  3. ^ "DIVISIVE WORDS; Congressman Admits Segregation 'Feeling'". New York Times. December 21, 2002. 
  4. ^ a b "North Carolina's Ballenger says he's had segregationist feelings". The News & Observer Publishing Company. December 20, 2002. Archived from the original on January 2, 2003. 
  5. ^ Morrill, Jim (December 20, 2002). "North Carolina Congressman Apologizes for Remarks about Black Colleague.". The Charlotte Observer. 
  6. ^
  7. ^

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jim Broyhill
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 10th congressional district

November 4, 1986 – January 3, 2005
Succeeded by
Patrick T. McHenry